Inside Higher Ed is running a follow-up story on the Liberty University Chief Information Officer who accepted a bag of cash from Michael Cohen in exchange for rigging online polls to make Donald Trump look like a successful businessman. We covered this here.
Here is a taste of Lindsay McKenzie’s piece:
Gauger did not respond to request for comments, but Liberty University released a written statement last week supporting him.
“Liberty University, like many other educational institutions, has permitted its employees for many years to engage in business, consulting and other side work that does not interfere with their employment obligations to the University,” it states. “Also, like other organizations, Liberty recognizes the strong demand for highly skilled IT professionals creates special challenges in recruiting and retaining talented employees with those skills and experience. The opportunity for Liberty’s IT employees to develop businesses and products is particularly important to attracting and maintaining Liberty’s IT talent. John Gauger is one example among many outstanding LU employees who have made great contributions in their official roles and also enjoyed success as independent entrepreneurs, allowing them to enhance their capabilities and generate more revenue for their families while allowing the University to retain them on our team.”
The university’s response surprised outside observers.
“It seems strange that a university would praise an employee for helping to rig online opinion polls,” said Tom Davenport, professor of information technology and management at Babson College, a private business school in Wellesley, Mass. “But Liberty University seems to me not a typical university in many respects — it is mostly an advocacy organization for evangelical conservatives and, more recently, Donald Trump.”
Davenport described the incident as “highly irregular on many fronts,” not only because of Liberty’s response but because Gauger was running a business on the side.
“That the CIO had a separate company is unusual in my experience, said Davenport. “Most CIOs in universities and elsewhere are plenty busy with their primary jobs and don’t have time to freelance even if their employers would allow it.”
Read the entire piece here.
This article contains quotes from several Chief Information Officers at secular institutions who say that what Gauger did was unethical. Why doesn’t the leadership of a Christian institution understand this? When it comes to ethics, shouldn’t a Christian institution be setting the bar?
I also wonder if Falwell Jr. would have defended Gauger if he was working for Barack Obama or another Democrat? Is this just another example of situational ethics at Liberty University?
In most eras, the behavior of Gauger and Falwell Jr. would be embarrassing for Liberty University. But not in the age of Trump.