Update! Abdul S. Rao Requests Resignation Be Rescinded – Choices and Consequences

February 21, 2009

Reported yesterday in this ethics blog – Abdul S. Rao had resigned from his position from the University of South Florida.  Originally reported in the university-of-south-floidaChronical of Higher Education, I raised several questions and noted that every choice has a consequence.

As of today it appears that Dr. Rao, someone who’s work has contributed to the success of the University, has rescinded his resignation.  A copy publicaly available on the internet is printed below:

From: Abdul Rao
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 23:50:38 -0500
To: “Klasko, Stephen”
Cc: “Ekarius, John”
Subject: RESCIND RESIGNATION

Dear Steve:

After much contemplation and discussion with my family and legal counsel, I would like to rescind my resignation from my administrative positions at USF Health. I am convinced that the conditions under which the resignations were obtained were extremely unfavourable not giving me ample time to think through this very important decision. I was given no option to consult a lawyer or a member of my family and was informed that I either resign or else.

I also believe that I have up to three days to withdraw my decision and I am exercising that option and withdrawing my resignation.

Lastly I am convinced that the outcome is not compatible with the level of the infraction and has placed my professional and personal life in serious conundrum. I suggest that the University complete its investigation and a judgement is made which is compatible with the committed infraction. I am certain that it would not amount to a call for resignation with a severance of six weeks and a professional life totally destroyed. I plan to defend my innocence and make every effort to preserve my professional life and my integrity.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Abdul S. Rao

Every choice does have a consequence.  As such the consequences do not have to be nearly as dramatic as resignation – especially in light of the fact that Dr. Rao has made substantial contributions to the furtherance of his profession and that of the University.

As an ethics speaker, I have several questions:

  • Who had the rights to the tape that was posted on YouTube?
  • Were they legally and ethically allowed to use property that was not theirs to display publically?
  • What motivated Dr. Rao to assist in taking something that he had no ownership in?
  • Should the University have been so quick to take Dr. Rao’s resignation?
  • Pages on Dr. Rao have been removed from the University’s web site – did they want Dr. Rao gone?
  • When there is an ethics lapse in judgment, what should the appropriate outcome or consequence be?

Your comments are welcome…


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.