One week ago, Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced the surprise resignation of Soumitra Dutta, dean of the SC Johnson College of Business.
In the seven days since, the University has refused to explain the circumstances of Dutta’s departure. The Sun has reported that administration officials are working hard behind the scenes to maintain silence, and a brief statement released by Dutta on his LinkedIn page offers no further substantive explanation for his exit.
The announcement blindsided not only Dutta’s interim successor, L. Joseph Thomas, but faculty and administrators in and out of the business college, including the dean of the hotel school. Professors and students alike have become amateur Poirots and Marples, speculating over coffee as to the reasons why the dean left so abruptly.
Continued stonewalling on Dutta will only have one effect: a loss of trust in the University. Faculty, staff and students have a right to know the answers to their many questions, and every day that goes by without an explanation from the administration is an indicator that Day Hall is uninterested in accountability and undeserving of our trust.
By remaining silent, the University has allowed for the creation of a fast-growing rumor mill, which, if not checked by facts, will inevitably spin out of control and damage Cornell. The only way to put such speculation to rest is to provide an accounting for Dutta’s exit and the intense secrecy that followed.
Allowing this to go any further is unfair to the faculty, to the staff, to the students and to Dutta himself. We need answers, and we need them now.