The Finalist for UT-Arlington's Presidency Faces Scrutiny for How He Handled an Alabama Massacre
On Valentine's Day, the University of Texas System regents named University of Alabama-Huntsville Provost Vistasp M. Karbhari as the lone finalist to succeed James Spanioloas as president of the University of Texas at Arlington.
Less than a week later, though, regents have decided their decision needs a bit more discussion. At issue, according to the Texas Tribune, is Karbhari's status as a defendant in a pair of wrongful death lawsuits. Both were brought by family members of UAH faculty members killed when a professor Amy Bishop, gunned down three colleagues and wounded six others during a February 2010 shooting spree.
The lawsuits argue that Karbhari ignored policies, which he helped write, requiring police to be notified when staff members displaying emotional, mental or psychological instability.
According to CNN, the family members allege that Karbahi was aware that Bishop had demonstrated threatening behavior toward colleagues after being denied tenure the previous year and that he was aware of numerous reports of Bishop's "unsettling" behavior.
If Karbahi and the university had followed procedures, the suit claims, they would have discovered that Bishop had shot her brother in 1986 (it was ruled an accident) and had been investigated in 1993 in an attempted bombing of a Harvard colleague. The complexities of both cases, and of Bishop herself, are fleshed out in a recent New Yorker profile.
Both suits against Karbahi are making their way through the courts. The issue with his selection as the UT-Arlington finalist was that not all regents were aware of their existence, according to the Tribune. They're scheduled to hold a special meeting by telephone on Wednesday to discuss and take possible action on Karbahi's candidacy.