San Jose State President, Who Led Online Push, Will Leave for Post in Afghanistan (CHE)

San Jose State President, Who Led Online Push, Will Leave for Post in Afghanistan (CHE)

July 14, 2015

Mohammad H. Qayoumi, whose aggressive moves in online education and campus technology drew sharp faculty criticism, announced on Monday that he would step down as president of San Jose State University next month in order to serve as chief technology adviser to the president of Afghanistan, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Mr. Qayoumi, an Afghan native who has led the California university since 2011, had ambitions to make the institution as innovative as the Silicon Valley businesses that surround it, and said he sought to “reinvent” public universities by taking industry as a model. But he ran afoul of faculty members who opposed his plans to dive into offering massive open online courses and strike online partnerships, with what professors said was minimal faculty input.

In one notable incident, philosophy professors refused to teach a coursedeveloped by one such partner. The university eventually adopted a new policy on such courses, and the president vowed reforms to honor principles of shared governance.

Mr. Qayoumi also drew criticism for how he handled an incident in which several white students faced misdemeanor charges of bullying their black roommate. Critics said the bullying — which included hanging a Confederate flag in the suite, verbal abuse, barricading the student in his room, and putting a bicycle lock around his neck — went on for weeks before administrators intervened, although a later report said they had acted as soon as they learned of the abuse. Mr. Qayoumi apologized to the black student, saying “we failed him.”

An investigation last year by the Mercury News found a series of fiscal improprieties, including a $28-million no-bid contract awarded to Cisco Systems to overhaul the campus’s communications network.

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