Pat Gunning's reply to the statements made by the Administration in Megapolis
In the story published in the Megapolis newspaper, KIMEP's Vice President of Academic Affairs Habib Rahman is quoted as saying that I lied when I wrote that "Many specialists fulfilled an additional work after KIMEP with consent of Khabib Rakhman had promised them to pay for it and had not paid. KIMEP deprived me of four months salary and bonuses. It is about 20-30,000 dollars". This is the first time in my recent memory that someone has accused me of lying.
Rahman himself is the liar. One of the first things I heard after I arrived at KIMEP was that I could not trust Rahman's promises. After I was abruptly fired from KIMEP in December 2005 and began to make contacts with others like myself, it became clear that the lies and fraud committed by KIMEP toward me were in many respects similar to those of at least fifteen others who had either been fired or voluntarily left KIMEP. These "specialists" told tales of doing extra work on the basis of promises made by Rahman or Bang and then being told that the money would not be paide. In other words, they told tales of fraud. Thus, the lies and fraud committed by Rahman can be traced back to the time at which he came to KIMEP. Since Chan Young Bang is his direct boss, Bang himself is responsible for these as well. So also are their colleagues Steven Green and former Kazakhstan minister of education Mr. Bilyalov, since they are aware of most or all of these lies and fraud and since they either actively participate in them or condone them. In the following, I will show that each one of Rahman's statements is either (1) a complete distortion, (2) a misrepresentation, or (3) a self-serving lapse of memory. Let me say also, however, that anyone who wants to find out whether Rahman or I am a liar only needs to go to KIMEP and chat privately with my former Kazakhstani colleagues in the economics department.
Rahman writes: "Now professors of this level are paid 75-80,000 dollars taking into consideration an indexation...In a month after he was accepted on his position, he started saying in an informal environment that Kazakhstan is a bad country, that the administration pays low salaries to Kazakh citizens, and that KIMEP accepts many local specialists who lack qualification."
1. My contractual pay was US$65,000. But I received less because KIMEP paid in TENGE and used a low rate of exchange. This was a bait an switch tactic, it seemed to me. Rahman baited me with $65,000. Then after I agreed through email to accept, he sent a contract in which the pay was denominated in Tenge at the low exchange rate. Since several days had passed, I missed other opportunities in the job market.
2. I never said that Kazakhstan is a bad country. On the contrary, I regard it as a delightful country. Indeed until I learned how nasty Rahman, Bang, and Steven Green could be, I was pleased with my role at KIMEP also.
3. I did make the other comments. I made them in front of the Department of Economics at a formal department meeting at the time that I announced my resignation as Department Chair, which I had agreed reluctantly, at Rahman's request, to be (see below). Thus the remarks in question were not made informally.
4. I did say that KIMEP pays low salaries to economists in relation to other universities. This fact is obvious to everyone.
5. I did say that a substantially larger proportion of economics courses are taught by teachers with masters degrees than at other comparable universities and that these teachers are from Kazakhstan and relatively inexpensive to hire. As M.A., they obviously lack the formal qualifications that are possessed by Ph.D.s. I said this and it is true. However, it was not meant to be demeaning. In fact, I followed it with praise for these teachers. I attributed the superior quality of the economics program at KIMEP at the time mostly to these teachers. The reason is that (a) for the most part the foreign economists only stay for a short time at KIMEP and (b) the teachers in the economics department maintain high standards for student achievement and have a strong sense of duty and honor.
6. The essence of these remarks are on a set of power point slides which were presented at a department meeting that I called. I will be happy to make them available.
7. I was told by the Dean that the power point presentation was forwarded to Bang, who became very angry when he saw it. Upon hearing this, I tried in vain to arrange an appointment with Bang to discuss his reaction. He refused to meet with me at any time after I made the presentation despite my numerous requests to do so.
Rahman's statement is a combination of misrepresentation and distortion.
Rahman writes: "Then Pat Gunning refused to teach those courses which were in KIMEP program and which student chose for themselves....In order for students to pass the examination, the administration made a decision to pay him a particular amount of bonus. Why did he ask for additional payment? Because a professor of the same department, Sabit Kakimzhanov, was sick and the administration asked Dr. Gunning to teach several classes instead of him. Dr. Gunning came to a classroom and said that Mr. Kakimzhanov is sick but I will not teach class instead of him. So he asked additional payment just for the fact that he let students go."
This statement implies that I asked to be paid for work that I did not do. That is untrue.
1. In an email written by Rahman during the summer when he was trying to persuade me to come to KIMEP, he wrote that my teaching load would be 6-9 hours and that I would not be required to be a Department Chair. He paid a higher salary to me than that of other faculty (but lower than the international market). He offered these benefits in order to persuade me to come to KIMEP. When I arrived, I was scheduled to teach only 6 hours per week, which was consistent with this email. Rahman immediately asked me to be Department Chair and I declined. During the first week of the semester, the department was in such disarray due to office renovation and also due to the absence of a permanent Chair, that I reluctantly agreed to take the job. Rahman was very pleased with this. During the next 8 weeks, I worked 70-80 hours per week learning about the department, its faculty, and various other things that are required to be a responsible Chair.
2. I was especially concerned about the faculty shortage in our department and urged Rahman to make it possible to hire some additional people. If someone got sick, I reasoned, we may not be able to cover the courses. After about the 5th week, one of the Ph.D. faculty who was critical to the program (Dr. Kakimzhanov) was injured in an accident and hospitalized for several weeks.
3. I frantically sought replacements and arranged for all but one of his three courses to be taught. Each of the substitutes was promised overload pay for their additional work. In the meantime I met the third class a couple of times and kept in touch with the students about the future as I tried to arrange a replacement. When it became impossible to find a replacement, I reluctantly agreed to take the course myself, but only if I was given overload pay for the job. Rahman first refused, then delayed. After teaching one class, I refused to teach it again until or unless I received a promise from Bang himself for overload pay. The administration again delayed consideration of this refusal. As a result several classes were cancelled as the students and I waited for Rahman to act. There were a couple of high level meetings, I was told, although I was not invited to any of these. Ultimately Bang promised to pay and I agreed to teach the overload, as the others had done. There is a paper trail detailing each of the several events that occurred during this period. It shows that I was very concerned about the class not having a teacher but also that I was not willing to take on the extra burden unless I was paid. It also demonstrates the administration's procrastination or inefficiency in dealing with the problem promptly.
4. The reason that I demanded a promise from Bang is that Rahman had reneged on an earlier promise when I accepted his offer to be Chair. He has promised to allow me to appoint an Associate Chair to reduce the burden of work on me. When I submitted my recommendation of Dr. Khakimzhanov, he disapproved and indicated that no one could be placed in this job. Simply put, I had no reason to trust Rahman to keep his promise to pay. I should also say that I was aware of other instances in which faculty had not received pay that was promised by Rahman for extra work. So I demanded the pay at a higher level.
5. The reason I demanded pay for this work is that, with reference to the offer that Rahman made me in his summer email and also with reference to the contract, I was being asked to do more work than we had agreed upon.
6. I did not refuse to teach; I refused to teach without just compensation. I never asked to be paid for courses that I did not teach. And when I taught, I did so in a conscientious and professional way. Every class for which I was given overload pay was met for the full meeting period.
Rahman's statement is a distortion of the truth and a misrepresentations of facts.
Rahman writes: "He also started coming with his wife to work, a citizen of China or Vietnam. The whole day she was spending at his office. As a result, students were shy to come to personal consultations, professors and administrators were also shy to discuss some confidential issues in her presence. In other words, he appeared to be not the person who was expected to take this position."
1. My wife, a Taiwanese university graduate and businesswoman, did come frequently to my office, although I do not recall her spending an entire day. Mostly, and almost entirely at the beginning of the semester, she came for a couple of hours to use the internet connection so that she could stay in touch with family and friends and business contacts. She did not come every day. I had asked Rahman for permission for her to do this and he agreed. Nor was it uncommon for this to occur. In particular, the wife of Dr. Dana Stevens, a close associate of Bang, Rahman, and Green, is widely known to use the internet connection in his office.
2. After the first three weeks or so, most of my wife's internet use in my office was to assist me. Lacking an Associate Chair and having an extensive workload to get up to speed, as it were, I needed assistance to avoid falling behind in my research. Her task was to organize my internet research materials and, to do so, she occasionally needed comments from me. Moreover, during the same period, my wife was hired by KIMEP, but KIMEP provided no computer facilities for her work. She spent a couple of full days in my office during that period doing KIMEP business. I might add that KIMEP refused to pay her for those hours until I had written several memos. She worked in September and was finally paid in February. After I resigned as Chair in mid-semester, my wife seldom came to KIMEP except for a dance class in the evenings. She had completed the project of helping me and was disgusted with the fact the KIMEP had not paid her for work already performed.
3. My wife was not even in Kazakhstan for my last three weeks as Chair and the first week after I resigned. She left in late September and returned in late October.
4. My relationship with students was excellent. The idea that they would shy away from visiting my office for any reason is absurd.
5. Ordinarily, if my wife was present at a time that a consultation was in order, I asked her to leave or I went to a different place.
Rahman misrepresents the facts about my wife spending the whole day, he conveniently neglects to say that he gave his permission for her to do this, and he speculates about consultations that he knows very little about. His implication that I neglected my duties in order to provide services for my wife at the office is a lie. Recall that I was spending 70-80 hours a week working while I was Chair.
Rahman writes: "Taking into consideration the fact that he had the leading position at his department, the administration wanted him to participate in further development of the economics department and help local staff to increase their qualification. But he refused to do anything in this direction explaining it by the fact that he is too significant in order to go to insignificant meetings."
During my period as Chair, I met with practically every faculty member. Not only did I offer to work together with them on projects and to consult with them on their own professional development, I did in fact consult with several, providing them with feedback on their work and references for future professional development. After I resigned as Department Chair, I arranged for a group of faculty to study a particular subject in Economics -- economic growth. In other words, I led a study group of the younger faculty, practically all of whom thanked me; since this had not been done before. During my stay, I attended and participated vigorously in practically all of the bi-weekly Saturday morning seminars organized by Bang to help make KIMEP more visible to the community. I did these things not because of what the administration expected but because it was the most appropriate way to participate in a team effort. As such, I regarded it as a professional responsibility.
Rahman's states alleged facts that are just the opposite of what occurred. He is either misinformed or he has deliberately lied.
Rahman writes: "In December when students were to pass final exams, Pat Gunning suddenly and without any justification required to increase his salary, refused to teach any courses and promised to leave Almaty in case if we do not pay him sum greater than stipulated by contract. In other words, he was blackmailing the university administration."
In October, I was promised money by Bang for teaching an overload, as described above. Yet KIMEP did not include any addition to my pay in October and also in November. So I asked my Dean to find out the reason for this omission. He acted quickly and informed me that Rahman had decided not to pay until I made a formal request beyond the requests that had already been made and approved. Upon hearing this nonsense, I threatened to fly out on the next plane if Bang did not immediately pay me as he had promised to do. Bang responded by paying the money and I continued to teach. The threat was public. Everyone on the KIMEP email list read the threat. And, after Bang paid, everyone learned that he paid.
By the way, Bang, through Green, paid me in cash and expressed a deep apology on Bang's part. Clearly, however, Bang and Green were lying about being apologetic. Green handed me nine one-hundred-dollar bills.
Why did I make this threat? Since Bang refused to meet with me and since Rahman had refused to pay as promised, I saw no other way to deal with the issue. As mentioned above, this was overload pay that had been promised. It was not "a sum greater than stipulated in the contract." And it was not a bonus.
I might add that the money was not worth the time and I knew that when I agreed to teach the overload. I accepted this assignment in order to allow the students enrolled in the course to complete it, not because I could earn money.
Rahman conveniently omits the circumstances that preceded the events he described and particularly his own role in not authorizing the payment of the money that Bang agreed to pay. There was no request or demand to increase my salary. I demanded only to be paid for work already performed and for which a promise of payment had been made by Bang. I made the demand because Rahman and Bang's were attempting to defraud me.
"Taking into consideration such unprofessional behavior and unjustified claims, the university administration decided to terminate the contract in January instead of June. At the same time, the decision was made not only by Dr. Bang and Dr, Rahman personally, but by the committees called at the college, department and the whole university. Professor was paid for December, January and for two months above and otpuskniye in order just to, generally speaking, get rid of him. He did not work in February, March, April, May and June that is why he thinks we underpaid him 20-30,000 dollars."
KIMEP served an eviction notice to me on the same day that I turned in my final grades, December 22, three days before Christmas. Both Rahman and Bang had already left town. The notice was served by Green. In subsequent actions, Green was backed by Dr. Bilyolov, former Kazakhstan minister of education. The eviction notice violated the KIMEP contract and completely circumvented KIMEP's own Faculty Code of Practice which, according to the contract, is the ruling document in such cases. No college committee or department committee was involved in the decision to my knowledge. The whole process was manipulated by Rahman who hastily brought together a partial college committee that is designated in the KIMEP Faculty Code for a different purpose. A number of people who, according to KIMEP regulations, are required to participate in such a process were either deliberately excluded or refused to participate.
Regarding the money, KIMEP paid me for work performed up until December 22, when they evicted me. In addition, they claimed to pay one additional month. The money I actually received for that month was several percentage points below the amount that was owed. When I asked for an explanation, Bang and his agents refused to reply. Rahman seems to claim that I was paid for two additional months. If that is what he actually said, he is lying or simply does not know the facts.
Why did I claim that KIMEP owes me that amount of money? The contract specifies that one party can break the contract without proper justification only with four month's notice. KIMEP failed to provide proper justification according to the contract and according to its own Faculty Code of Practice. In fact, my contract was for four years and Rahman personally assured me during the previous summer that I would not have to worry about the four-month clause. I specifically expressed concern to him about this in an email before signing the contract. Thus the amount that KIMEP owes me morally is over US$200,000. But Rahman is not a moral person.
Rahman misrepresents a series of facts. Most important, KIMEP terminated the contract on December 22 with an eviction notice and a threat to call the police if I did not leave my office and the grounds of the university. Almost as important, the eviction and the way it was justified broke the contract that KIMEP made with me. It was the culmination of a fraud that had begun during the emails from Rahman in the summer 2005.
As owner of the corporation in Kazakhstan, Bang has the right under Kazakhstan law to fire anyone on the spot, so long as he gives a month's severance pay. At least this is what my Russian-speaking lawyer told me. He did that to me. But KIMEP also signed a contract with me. Under that contract Bang does not have this right. He must abide by the terms of the contract and the Faculty Code of Practice. The contract requires four month notice except under specific conditions that KIMEP did not meet. Thus, Bang broke the contract it made with me. Moreover, in light of the KIMEP's use of the contract to lure me to KIMEP and in light of other statements made to my by Rahman in emails intended also to lure me to KIMEP, Bang defrauded me. This blatant violation of my contract and fraud is just one of numerous instances of similar behavior that has occurred over the history of KIMEP.
But what foreigner in his or her right mind would stick around Almaty to sue?
Finally, let me say that I can provide written documents to prove practically everything I have written. I am a meticulous collector. If you do not believe me, then you are welcome to ask me for documentation.