Abdul S. Rao Associate Vice President at the University of South Florida Resigns – Choices and Consequences

February 20, 2009

Every choice has a consequence.  For whatever reason, a Vice-President who helped steal a student bicycle resigned.  His choice cost him his job.

Here’s the story from The Chronicle of High Education:

Just days after someone posted security-camera footage to YouTube that showed an associate vice president at the University of South Florida helping someone steal a bicycle, the administrator, Abdul S. Rao, is resigning.

Stephen K. Klasko, dean of the university’s medical school, announced at a faculty meeting last night that Dr. Rao would step down effective this Friday. Dr. Rao, senior associate vice president for research in the university’s health division, admitted that he had helped a day laborer take a bicycle parked at a loading dock behind the university’s Byrd Institute.

He said in a statement that a “lapse of judgment” led him to give permission to a “nearly homeless man” to use the bike, which a student later reported stolen. “I have no excuse,” Dr. Rao said in the statement. “I can only say that my intention was never to bring harm, alarm, or disruption to anyone.”

The student whose bike was stolen asked the police for the security-camera footage, which the student then placed on a server that others could see, according to press accounts. Someone then posted the footage to YouTube, where it received thousands of views before it was removed because of an unspecified violation of the video-sharing site’s terms of service. Michael J. Hoad, a vice president for communications at the university, said in an interview that the leaking of the video was “a minor secondary issue” that the university had no plans to investigate.

What was Dr. Rao thinking?  Did he have such compassion for a homeless person that he lost his sense of ethics?  Often in an electronic age the assumption is out of sight out of mind.  However, not much today is out of sight – especially with internet services like YouTube.

From an ethical perspective – do you feel that Dr. Rao should have resigned?  Will the good work that Dr. Rao be lost due to a lapse of his ethical choices.