Two 2001 news stories outlining a tenure controversy surrounding CU’s newly named Professor of the Year appear to have been blocked from a former campus newspaper’s search engine.
The April 26 article “President’s tenure decision questioned” and the May 10 article “Hoffman explains UCB tenure decision” appeared as results in the search engine of the now-defunct faculty/staff newspaper Silver & Gold Record on Nov. 11. But the next day, after BW interviewed award recipient Steven Pollock and asked about the controversy (see story on page 16), the two stories were no longer being turned up by the search engine.
If CU officials were trying to hide possibly controversial treatment of a faculty member who has now won one of the nation’s highest teaching awards, they didn’t do a very thorough job. The articles could still be retrieved by clicking on the appropriate date in a list of editions under the search engine (www.cu.edu/sg/archive.html), and a paper archive is available at Norlin Library and Boulder Public Library.
Pollock told BW Nov. 13 that he hadn’t spoken to any public relations staff since the Nov. 11 interview.
“I have not mentioned anything, and none of the other reporters asked anything remotely like that,” he says. “Nobody was thinking about the tenure story.”
Pollock adds that it would be strange for CU officials to try to limit access to those old articles.
“That’s very weird,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anything to be unhappy about in those old records. … It is curious. I suspect that, the only think I can think of is just what you’re saying, somebody spotted it and thought, ‘Oh, why have that up there?’ I have old paper files of that which I’ve kept, you know, as a little memory. I didn’t realize it was all online.”
Public relations officials denied having any knowledge of stories being blocked from the search engine, and Jon Arnold, the web developer in the CU president’s office who manages the S&GR website, says the only time a story was removed from the archive was when someone was threatening a law suit over an article regarding “something that had occurred and was later rectified.” He says he’s the only one who has the server access to remove stories or block them from the search engine, and he’s gotten no directives to do so in at least two months.
“That’s really not how things operate here,” Arnold says. “I apologize for that, I’ll take the blame on that as being a technology snafu here.”
Editor’s note: Dodge authored the 2001 S&GR stories on Pollock’s tenure case.