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May 3, 2004

You've Got Mail, Insubordinates

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So much for the healing of wounds at Southern Miss. The flap over monitoring e-mails at the university took a different twist Monday. An e-mail from the administration to college deans is now raising eyebrows.

The same day the College Board approved a settlement between university President Shelby Thames and professors Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer, the university's risk manager Jack Hanbury sent this e-mail to college deans:

I have been advised that a couple of you have consulted personal counsel and decided to give the FS the requested information regardless of my legal opinion and Dr. Thames' instructions. The last I heard, Dr. Thames was your boss, not some nebulous "outside counsel." Quite simply, regardless of what you or your misguided personal counsel think, the law means you take your orders from Dr. Thames and it is not up to you to decide to do otherwise. You are insulated from personal liability for doing so.
I have informed Dr. Thames of your grossly insubordinate action.

The Faculty Senate had asked deans for more information regarding mid-year raises given some faculty members. Apparently, a couple of the deans sent the requested information, prompting Hanbury's e-mail.   

Late Monday, Hanbury e-mailed News 7 with this response about his message to the deans:

You need to understand the context in which this email was written. The Faculty Senate requested the names of the individuals recommended for mid-year raises. This is quite different from the names of those who actually received raises. It is my opinion that this information is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. My concern was that disclosing this information could have exposed the university to liability and did expose the deans to personal liability.