After luring physics professor Moshe Gai away from Yale in 1994, the University of Connecticut is now planning to fire the renowned physicist on grounds that he is bullying colleagues, students and superiors.
In a Dec. 31 report, UConn accused Gai of harassing a fellow professor, making anti-gay remarks and publicly criticizing a graduate student. The report also said Gai made a death threat by telling a colleague, “If you want to fight a war with me, you will wind up dead.”
But Gai said that his actual remark was “He who goes to war must prepare to die” and that all the allegations were fabricated. He said he believes UConn is trying to punish him for his attempts to reform the Physics Department.
“I had been an outspoken man for reform in the University [of Connecticut],” Gai said. “I had pointed out illegal transactions, the below-standard level of teaching and the misappropriation of funds.”
UConn has placed Gai on administrative leave and has forbidden him from communicating with anyone in the Physics Department. Gai is also prohibited from entering the Storrs campus without a police escort.
In retaliation, Gai filed a lawsuit in federal court Jan. 7, accusing UConn of violating his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.
Despite UConn’s measures to fire him, Gai said he intends to remain at the school.
In the meantime, Gai has been able to continue his research as an adjunct professor at Yale. Although Gai does not teach or receive a salary, he maintains an office at Yale and conducts extensive research with Yale colleagues.
“[My Yale colleagues] keep me sane in the sense that I’m still able to do some science,” Gai said. “I’m a scientist, not a lawyer.”
Physics professor Robert Adair said he was surprised by UConn’s accusations against Gai.
“I’m somewhat surprised and quite disturbed about the situation,” Adair said. “I think the whole thing’s crazy.”