The Beat Goes On

Dismissal from Paradise Corvinus

In my previous post, I touched on the dismissal of Professor Zoltán Ádám from Corvinus University.  Since the publication of that post, we have been informed of a number of new developments which show that Corvinus University is now on the attack.  In an orchestrated communications campaign, university big wigs are putting the blame on Professor Ádám, the whistleblower, who was let go for a lightweight or outright fabricated cause.  The spin factory spit out an interesting narrative.

The first output of the factory was a press release and followup interview with the new, transient Rector of Corvinus University. Both took the offensive in connection with spelling out the party line, why Professor Ádám was fired for cause.  The gist of this counteroffensive is that while Professor Ádám, in one case, opposed the waiver of a student’s disqualification for an exam, in another case, he knowingly approved, or simply acquiesced in granting a similar waiver to another student.  Since University communication and press releases specify neither the names of students involved nor the names of professors granting and denying this waiver, I try to use fictitious names for the readers to be able to follow the arguments of Rector Szabó.

He alleges that Student Karamazov was flatly denied the waiver by Professor Ádám, which would have allowed young Karamazov to sit for the exam. In sharp contrast to this treatment, another student, let us call him Student Raskolnikov, was granted some form of a waiver from disqualification for a final test by, or with the knowledge of, Professor Ádám.  Someone was denied equal treatment.  As Rector Szabó puts it, it is a negative discrimination against Student Karamazov and a positive discrimination in favor of Student Raskolnikov.

This is, of course, a nasty insinuation which is particularly pathetic in view of the fact that the specific causes for the dismissal in the termination letter handed to Professor Ádám refer to two specific grounds, neither of which cite this alleged discrimination or arbitrary treatment.  Firstly, the letter refers to the fact that Professor Ádám failed to send the University Chancellor two emails pertinent to an investigation when, in fact, such emails had been presented earlier, and are shown in the minutes of the records of this investigation. And secondly, it is alleged that Professor Ádám’s communication with the University Chancellor was somehow disrespectful or rude.

When we read through the press releases of the University, there is nothing about the circumstances of the denial of a benefit in one case and the granting thereof in another.

Whoever came up with this subterfuge, he or she must believe that we ordinary readers are dummies.  Sorry to say, we use common sense and draw fair conclusions from the statements of the Rector.  These are, indeed, ‘Strawberry Statements’.  Pieces of crap.  Firstly, if we look at the two-pronged grounds of dismissal, nothing in the loosely constructed arguments try to demonstrate that the case of Student Karamazov and that of Student Raskolnikov are, roughly speaking, two similarly situated apples.  It seems to us that the Rector is comparing apples and oranges, which is a good feat for an art historian, but does not sit well when you need to justify the punishment for an alleged misdeed.

The second output of the spin doctors was performed in a live television program by none other than Zsolt Hernádi, the all-powerful top executive of MOL and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Corvinus University.  This program on Channel ATV, which can hardly be likened to HARDtalk, allowed Mr. Hernádi to patronizingly play down the charges Professor Ádám raised in his whistleblower’s petition. Mr. Hernádi started his interview in a folksy manner by saying that, oops, he said hoppá, Student Karamazov realized that he failed to submit five of the twelve mandatory quiz tests, adding that, oops I did it again (may not be that innocent); he also missed handing in a homework paper.  Mr. Hernádi then argued that this seemingly material delinquency might have been resolved in a discretionary “equity proceeding,” which Professor Ádám’s conduct foreclosed for Student Karamazov.  Mr. Hernádi said that in “his” times it happened to “many of us” that we missed a few deliverables and then we just wrote a letter to “Dear Madam Comrade Dean,” setting out sickness (katzenjammer) or a family event, and almost one hundred percent of such requests to allow to sit for an exam had been granted.  Times may be different now than in the days of Madam Comrade.  Mr. Hernádi thought he was being funny when he referred to Madam Comrade.  Readers are free to think otherwise.

Mr. Hernádi offered an analogy, comparing this equity proceeding with confession in the Roman Catholic Church.  If you confessed the right way, you were absolved as a repentant student, and then you could sit for the exam, he informed us.  Then Mr. Hernádi went on to charge Professor Ádám with his handling of the whistleblower story in a Facebook group that allowed the leaking of a piece of information, to the effect that an offspring of a rich MOL shareholder – ineligible for the exam – was allowed to take it without going through the equity proceeding.  The upshot was, we were informed by Mr. Hernádi, that more than a dozen (yes, he uttered this number) students had been approached with suspicions by their peers as being potential beneficiaries of the process of overruling Professor Ádám’ decision.  One of them being his daughter, who had been asked by her friends, too, whether “your dad fixed this up for you?”  At this point, the reporter asked the powerful Chairman: is your daughter a student at Corvinus?  Sure, she is, he said; his eyes did not blink, as if this was an entirely ethical arrangement at Corvinus.  Then he went on to share with the viewers that his daughter was crying after she received emails from fellow students when, in fact, his daughter could not have been the beneficiary of the grant of permit for sitting for the exam, as she was abroad at this time, attending an Erasmus program. If she was away, why did her peers nag her about rich daddy?  You may want to tell the spin doctor that he or she needs to tailor the playbook to the actual facts of the story.

Normann Rockwell Saturday Evening Post 1959

Wrong way – one may be inclined to say.  A dead-end street, so it seems.  What might be a more constructive approach here would be a fair and objective procedure which would examine the facts of this convoluted case, focusing on the specific grounds for Professor Ádám’s dismissal for cause.  No doubt there are many loose ends and obscure holes in the entire story that a process like this might explore.

Let’s not give up hope that somewhere and somehow (and not over the rainbow) there is a process like this.

But I would not bet the ranch on it.

András Hanák

PS   We have not forgotten that large issues are looming around these new-model, trust-managed universities.  We are also mindful that a host of conflict of interest issues come up when the Corvinus Trust owns and manages 10 percent of the outstanding shares of MOL. (Just to drop one: Who is authorized to vote those shares at MOL’s shareholder meeting?).  As we said in the previous post: one step a time.  We’ll get there.

One comment

  1. I hope you are sending copies of your newsletter to American embassy, let alone relevant EU
    officials. Of course, I don’t expect significant intervention, let alone a correction of Hungarian regime policies; however, sharing posts such as this may help over the long run in further illustrating the danger of the Orbán regime model. I am guessing that you and those who read this post such as myself benefit, even if in a small way, by publication of the truth.

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