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YSU Professor appealing nonrenewal



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The final decision is in the hands of YSU's interim provost.

YOUNGSTOWN -- A forensic science professor whose previous work in Cleveland was challenged as flawed could be finished at Youngstown State University after only a year.

Joseph Serowik, the professor in question, is appealing the decision to not have his contract renewed.

Alice Guerra, acting dean of YSU's Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, sent Serowik a letter last month informing the professor, who works in the university's criminal justice department, that she recommends he not be reappointed to a full-time faculty position.

The letter also states Dean John Yemma opposes Serowik's reappointment. Yemma is on medical leave, and Guerra is handling the position on an acting basis.

Serowik appealed Guerra's and Yemma's decision to Bege Bowers, the university's interim provost, said Ron Cole, YSU spokesman.

Bowers is reviewing the appeal, and it isn't known when she'll make a decision, Cole said. Bowers has the final say, he added.

One-year contract

YSU hired Serowik in August 2004 for $48,000 annually, giving him a one-year tenured-track professor position.

Shortly thereafter, two attorneys criticized YSU for hiring Serowik. The attorneys represented Michael Green, a Cleveland man wrongfully convicted of rape in 1988. Green was released after 13 years in prison when DNA evidence proved he didn't commit the crime.

Green was convicted in part on Serowik's testimony. At the time, Serowik was a scientific examiner in the Cleveland Police Department's crime lab. Green sued Cleveland in federal court stating that Serowik's testimony regarding the evidence was faulty and that he repeatedly engaged in "gross professional misconduct."

Green settled out of court for $1.6 million, and Serowik's employment ended in Cleveland.

Yemma recommended to then-Provost Tony Atwater that Serowik be hired as a professor even though the dean knew about the Cleveland issue, according to a review conducted by YSU.

Also, the review showed that Yemma never told Atwater about the controversy. Atwater approved the recommendation to hire Serowik.

Unless Bowers overturns Guerra's recommendation, Serowik's contract at YSU expires at the May 21 commencement, Cole said.

Serowik couldn't be reached Friday to comment. But in a September 2004 letter to YSU President Dr. David Sweet, Serowik wrote that he "did not cause the imprisonment of an innocent man," and the criticism leveled at him was "an unfair, unfounded and biased attack."




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