Wright State may fire suspended provost despite recommendation, attorney says


Wright State University’s president is taking steps to fire former provost Sundaram Narayanan despite a special board’s recommendation against his termination, Narayanan’s attorney told this news organization.

Narayanan, who has been on paid leave for more than three years during a federal investigation of possible violation of immigration laws, could learn his fate as a faculty member by June 20. On that day, Wright State’s board of trustees will meet in a closed-door executive session with Narayanan and his attorney.

Trustees may make their decision that day, said board chairman Doug Fecher.

“I’d like to hear what they have to say and then the board will have to go from there,” Fecher said. “Until I hear what’s said at that meeting, I can’t comment.”

» RELATED: Wright State to layoff up to 40; expects $10M loss next year

WSU president Cheryl Schrader initiated the process to terminate Narayanan as a faculty member in a Sept. 22 letter in which she told him he was charged with “substantial and manifest neglect of duty” under the faculty union contract.

Narayanan was one of four university administrators initially suspended in May 2015 because of the federal probe, which a Dayton Daily News investigation revealed was related to the university’s use of H-1B temporary work visas to secure employees for an area IT staffing firm in possible violation of immigration rules.

After Narayanan was removed from the provost position, Tom Sudkamp took over the position. Sudkamp is stepping down from the role at the end of June and the university has already hired Susan Edwards to replace him.

A hearing was conducted on April 19 and April 20 and a board comprised of three faculty union members and three people appointed by the WSU administration reviewed the evidence against Narayanan, his attorney Ted Copetas said. The board recommended that Narayanan not be fired because the “university had not met its burden to prove there was substantial and manifest neglect of duty,” Copetas said.

As standard procedure, the WSU administration is able to request a copy of the hearing’s transcript so the president can make a decision on a final recommendation to the board of trustees, Copetas said. Narayanan and the faculty union also receive copies of the transcript for review.

Schrader’s office did not request a copy of the transcript until June 6, Copetas said. But he said Schrader sent a letter recommending Narayanan’s firing to the board of trustees nearly two weeks earlier on May 21. The Dayton Daily News submitted a public records request on Monday for copies of any such correspondence.

» PHOTOS: Retail tycoon’s former Ohio mansion on sale for $3.95 million

“On the one hand, we have the board that evaluated, made a determination that the termination was not appropriate,” Copetas said. “On the other hand, we have the president who made her recommendation without actually reviewing evidence.”

Copetas declined to disclose the format of the closed-door hearing scheduled for next week with trustees. He also declined to share documents he referenced during his interview with this news organization.

Copetas would not say whether he and Narayanan plan to file a lawsuit if the university ultimately terminates the former provost.

“We simply hope to convince the board (of trustees) to follow the recommendation of the hearing board, which is based on facts and evidence,” Copetas said. “We’ll have to evaluate our options after the board of trustees makes that decision.”

When contacted on Monday, Wright State spokesman Seth Bauguess declined to immediately respond to Copetas’s comments and the status of the termination proceedings against Narayanan.

“Consistent with its long established practice, Wright State University does not comment on employee personnel matters,” Bauguess said via email.

» RELATED: Wright State trustees approve 2019 budget: A breakdown of funding by department

Narayanan was paid $274,296 in 2017 during his suspension, which made him the 14th highest paid person at Wright State last year, according to the Dayton Daily News’ Payroll Project.

University researcher Phani Kidambi, who was also suspended since May 2015 because of the federal probe, resigned from the university in August, records show.

The two others were university chief general counsel Gwen Mattison and senior advisor to the provost Ryan Fendley. Mattison was forced to retire in August 2015 with a $301,331 separation payment.

Fendley was fired in August 2015, but then filed two lawsuits against the university. A breach of contract suit was settled with Wright State Applied Research Corporation paying him $13,209. A wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Fendley in the Ohio Court of Claims was decided in Wright State’s favor in September.

FIVE FAST READS

• Algae plaguing Ohio lakes could force Kasich to take executive action

• PHOTOS: Retail tycoon’s former Ohio mansion on sale for $3.95 million

• Ohio colleges taking steps to avoid unchecked sex abuse cases

• The tomato on your Wendy’s burger will be grown in an American greenhouse in 2019

• PHOTOS: Victorian farmhouse with wine cellar, party barn on sale in Troy



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Two reportedly taken by CareFlight after motorcycle crash in Darke Co.
Two reportedly taken by CareFlight after motorcycle crash in Darke Co.

Two people were reportedly taken by CareFlight to a local hospital. Injuries are unknown at this time. A motorcycle accident occurred Saturday night on State Route 127, south of Route 705, in North Star village, according to Darke County dispatch. Two people were reportedly ejected from the motorcycle and CareFlight was requested. Crews were dispatched...
Vehicle crash into a tree in Fairborn, crews on scene
Vehicle crash into a tree in Fairborn, crews on scene

Crews are on scene for a vehicle that crashed into a tree in Fairborn Saturday evening. The vehicle crashed in the 3400 block of Spangler Road, according to scanner traffic. The vehicle is smoking and suffered moderate damage, initial reports say. Injuries are unknown. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
MedFlight transports one from motorcycle crash in Springfield
MedFlight transports one from motorcycle crash in Springfield

UPDATE @ 8:11 p.m.: The male motorcycle driver was transported via MedFlight to a local hospital, police say. He sustained non-life threatening injuries. Reports say passengers in the other vehicle are uninjured. INITIAL STORY: MedFlight is reportedly on standby for a man who crashed his motorcycle in a two-vehicle crash in Springfield Saturday evening...
Seven animals adopted from Greene Co. for ‘Clear the Shelters’ event
Seven animals adopted from Greene Co. for ‘Clear the Shelters’ event

Many Animal Control Centers across the county are looking to ‘Clear the Shelters’ Saturday by offering free or reduced adoption fees. Animal Control in Greene County stated pit bulls take up a lot of their shelter due to over-breeding and pit bull mixes have a harder time getting adopted than other breeds due to the stigmas that come with...
Cell phones make ‘upskirting’ easier for voyeurs. Here’s how police say you can protect yourself.
Cell phones make ‘upskirting’ easier for voyeurs. Here’s how police say you can protect yourself.

Voyeurism of the “peeping Tom” variety or a hidden camera has been around for years, but the boom of cell phones has made it easier than ever for unsuspecting people to become victims of “upskirting,” law enforcement and legal professionals said. MORE: Report: Voyeur taking pictures up shoppers’ skirts at Target in West...
More Stories