Schoharie County

Trial set for fired former SUNY Cobleskill dean

Jury selection is scheduled to begin July 8 in a case pitting a former SUNY Cobleskill dean against

Jury selection is scheduled to begin July 8 in a case pitting a former SUNY Cobleskill dean against the college and several administrators.

Thomas J. Hickey was fired as dean of liberal arts and sciences in 2009 and filed a lawsuit against the college, former President Donald P. Zingale and former Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Anne C. Myers. Hickey contends his termination was in retaliation for speaking out against a student recruitment policy he believes is racially biased.

In court papers, Hickey has said the college officials made it a policy to recruit minority students, specifically blacks, who were unlikely to graduate just so the college could meet targets in its budget.

Attorneys for the college, including the state Attorney General’s Office, responded in court papers by saying Hickey was doing a bad job before he was terminated and his allegations of racially motivated admissions policies had nothing to do with his firing.

Hickey further alleged Zingale and Myers, angered he went public with his allegations, sabotaged his attempt to be hired as provost of SUNY Delhi. In a 2012 pretrial ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. McAvoy threw that claim out, ruling it wasn’t possible for Hickey to prove retaliation by the college officials was to blame for losing out on that post.

McAvoy, however, ruled Hickey could sue the college on the claim it retaliated against him for speaking out against racial discrimination in education.

Claims were also maintained against Myers and Zingale under a federal statute protecting U.S. citizens from discrimination in contracts, the contract being their tuition in exchange for education.

Zingale’s attorney, Phillip Steck, declined comment on the case Friday.

The trial will be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Mae A. D’Agostino in Albany.

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