Gordon Klein

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The Story

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) accounting instructor Gordon Klein, who was cancelled after he told a student in 2020 that he wouldn’t let black students delay final exams on account of the George Floyd riots.The student inquiry was part of a well-organized campaign to find a professor to cancel. Dean Antonio Bernardo suspended Klein for three weeks without due process and launched a discrimination investigation, sent out an email accusing Klein of "abuse of power" to more than 40,000 people. In September 2021, Klein filed suit against UCLA and Dean Bernardo. UCLA’s motion to dismiss was defeated in March 2022 as described here. If Klein wins his defamation claim with its $10 million or so in damages (destroying someone’s consulting practice is expensive), Dean Bernardo, not UCLA, is liable for paying it, plus punitive damages if the court finds the defamation reckless or intentional.

Klein's email to the student is here.

Klein said in an October interview,

Within hours, word of my email reached people outside of the university and a number of these outside individuals were organized to complain to the university’s higher-ups, including the chancellor and my dean.

And they appear to have overwhelmed my dean with accusations against me. But none of the people accusing me ever identified themselves as knowing me or being one of my students. Some were from elsewhere on campus and some were not even university students.

The dean asked me to call him that evening, which I did. Much to my surprise, the dean was on the phone with me for no more than approximately one minute, after which he hung the phone up on me.

He didn’t give me a chance to explain, and he didn’t want to listen to the context. He simply acknowledged we’d known each other for a long time and that he was sending the case to the so-called DPO, which I later understood to mean the Discrimination Prevention Office.

There was a touching interview with Klein on the Larry O'Connor show in 2020. He talks about how he grew up in Detroit and went to the public schools; how he was a professional keyboardist and has played gospel music in black churches; how he turned in a colleague for discriminating against hispanics; how the student email that sparked this was part of a well-organized national campaign to go after a list of some 80 faculty; how he was thinking of retiring soon anyway and just volunteering time to help student clubs.... his liberal credentials are impeccable. And he describes how Dean Bernardo hung up on him after only talking with him a minute.)

Somebody posted the spreadsheet Prof. Klein mentioned in his radio interview listing 80 professors that progressives were targeting to trap into refusing exam cancellation requests so they could be "cancelled". It's at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IX42mJZdzoi8q7iiiAWMqVpBi_3dCwn9X2xoKfnR6CI/edit#gid=1221560764. It shows how most faculty caved in and did things such as making the final exam optional.

Dean Bernardo has issued quite a number of "community updates" with a critical race theory flavor. The one attacking Professor Klein had been taken down by August 2021.

In September 2021, Klein filed suit against UCLA and Dean Bernardo in California state court in this amended complaint. UCLA responded with an anti-SLAPP motion and a motion to dismiss, which were soundly defeated in March 2022. Legal Insurrection blog has a good article on the legal proceedings up to April 2022. Notably, the defamation claim (cause of action 3), the one for which the damages would be the biggest (perhaps $10 million even if there are no punitive damages), is against Dean Bernardo as an individual and NOT against UCLA. Under California state law, UCLA is permitted to pay it for him, but not required, and UCLA may not pay any punitive damages assessed against him.

Contact information for reporters

  • Daniel Burnett, Assistant Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473.
  • Gene Block, Chancellor, UCLA: 310-825-2151.
  • Klein's lawyers: Steven M. Goldberg and David S. Markun, MARKUN ZUSMAN FRENIERE & COMPTON LLP, 222 E. Marcy St., Suite #6, Santa Fe, NM 87501, (505) 603-3189.

Petitions

  • The petition to fire Gordon Klein with about 20,000 signatures ishere.
  • The petition to reinstate him with about 76,000 signatures is here.
  • A change.org petition was set up asking for the firing of Dean Antonio Bernardo, who suspended Klein here or at http://chng.it/8BgJgTCn. 1,200 have signed.


Miscellaneous

“I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s admonition, ‘Everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.’ Learning accounting or any quantitative discipline, without a concomitant emphasis on ethical behavior, is not a true education.”

  • Here is a sample of Klein'd jazzy keyboard playing.

"The process of evaluating the situation is proceeding at the Anderson School, and our committee has no direct role in that process. Our concern instead is that any public announcement that an instructor is being placed on administrative leave for what appears to be a particular statement—whether the statement happened in class, in an e-mail responding to a student, on social media, or wherever else—creates a chilling effect for other instructors, especially untenured ones. It is the committee's role to try to prevent such chilling effects."

One commenter had a good historical comparison:

I’m thinking of this as a League of Nations statement about Poland, circa 1939.

2021 Court Documents

Nothing here yet.


2020 Media Coverage

  • Poets-and-Quants blog (June 4, 2020): article

University of California Los Angeles accounting professor Gordon Klein faced threats of violence after he declined a student's request that he delay a final exam in light of national unrest. The university suspended the professor for three weeks beginning on June 25 and launched a discrimination investigation into the incident. Klein declined a request for comment, but a Malibu Police Department spokesman said the department increased police presence near the educator's home after Klein received multiple threats. . ... . The message also announced that Klein's classes would be transferred to Professors Brett Trueman and Judson Caskey, who also serves as the Anderson school's diversity committee chairman. . An email obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon shows that Caskey urged professors to avoid changing final exam plans in the face of student demands.

"If students ask for accommodations such as assignment delays or exam cancellations, I strongly encourage you to follow the normal procedures (accommodations from the [Center for Accessible Education] office, death/illness in the family, religious observance, etc.)," Caskey wrote in a June 1 email. . ... . A university spokesman declined to comment on Klein's situation, citing "confidentiality and privacy laws and concerns."

Klein said he was following the orders of his direct supervisor when he denied the request, saying he has in the past extended or even eliminated final exams under extraordinary circumstances, including when students had to be out of the country. . ... . Klein said he has "always provided compassionate treatment for students who face unique stresses and situations during final exams."

Klein, who said he also teaches a course in law and public policy, said, "I sympathize with anyone who at any time feels anguish or pain." . ... . Klein said the student who requested the postponement is not black.

"In 39 years of teaching, there are hundreds of students who can attest that I have given them compassion, encouragement and support," he said.

  • FIRE (June 10, 2020): FIRE letter to UCLA, which has lots of detail and is perhaps the best single source.
  • Figaro (June 11, 2020):

" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank Californie : un professeur de UCLA suspendu pour avoir refusé de favoriser les étudiants noirs dans leur notation Des étudiants «alliés» avaient fait pression sur le professeur pour adapter la notation des élčves noirs, sur fond de la mobilisation Black lives matter. Un incident qui n'est pas une premičre dans le pays, et souligne la radicalisation de nombreux campus.


June 14. " rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank In the War for Social Justice, Academic Freedom Is an Early Casualty, Debra J. Saunders


  • Instapundit blog (June 16, 2020):

    " rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank UCLA MANAGEMENT DEAN ANTONIO BERNARDO SUSPENDED FACULTY MEMBER GORDON KLEIN, after Klein refused to grade black students under a lower standard. That was in response to a petition by a student, Preet Bains. Now there’s a petition to have Dean Antonio Bernardo fired. It’s got quite a few signatures, but I’ll bet Dean Bernardo’s response isn’t as swift.

    • FIRE (October 12, 2020): long interview with Klein several months later in which Klein talks about the costs to him of the University's actions.

    2021 Media Coverage: September

    September 28:


    September 29:


    September 30:


    2021 Media Coverage: October 1-7

    October 1:

    "One of Bernardo’s numerous public memos encourages Anderson School of Management staff to read a Black Lives Matter article, which, among other things, encourages readers to “Consider the words of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors-Brignac: ‘If you were willing to say #AbolishIce. I need you to be willing to say #DefundThePolice. Full stop.’”
    “The dean seems to believe he is a racial justice crusader as opposed to someone in charge of giving people an objective and elite education,” Klein told the Caller."


    October 2:


    October 3:


    October 4:


    October 5:


    October 6:


    • Oct. 4, Klein was discussed favorably, using bad language, at 7:55 -19:00 with occasional detours on other topics on The Adam Corolla Show

    Emma Colton, Fox News], October 2.


    2021 Media Coverage: October 8-15

    October 8.