Carnegie Mellon president defends hiring of Ric Grenell, says university followed correct policy

University 'had the discretion' to hire the former ambassador

Updated: August 22, 2020 - 10:34pm

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The president of Carnegie Mellon University this week defended that school's hiring of former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, stating that university officials followed school policy when making the decision.

Grenell's hiring earlier in the summer as a senior fellow with the university's Institute for Politics and Strategy generated opposition from university faculty and staff, with objectors about Grenell's history of "disrespectful" tweets and some of his policy decisions as the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany.

In response to those objections, university President Farnam Jahanian convened a committee to review the hiring of Grenell, a a strong supporter of President Trump's policies.

On Thursday Jahanian wrote on the university's website that he concurred with the committee's conclusion, reached earlier this month, that  "all existing and relevant policies and procedures were followed" when making the decision. 

"As such," Jahanian continued, "I affirm that [Institute Director] Dr. [Kiron] Skinner had the discretion to appoint Ambassador Grenell to be a senior fellow in IPS, and further affirm the subsequent decisions of the deans and the provost permitting her to proceed."

In its report, the committee acknowledged that many of Grenell's Internet posts have been at times "dismissive and disrespectful of the opinions of others," though they acknowledged a "fundamental question" as to "whether we would expect someone coming from outside academia to have abided by its principles beforehand as a condition of employment."

"In any case, during his year at CMU, we fully expect him to follow all University policies and the more general principles of academic freedom," the report added.