Back in October of 2010, the campus was abuzz over the apparent “firing” of Kathleen Schraeder, the dean of Mathematics, Science and Engineering. Now, Schraeder wasn’t perfect—her particular eccentricity involved a lack of tact—but many of us were impressed that the best and the brightest among that motley crew of math/science faculty seemed to respect her and to be loyal to her.
Then, suddenly, word spread that Schraeder was fired over some less-than-flattering comment she made, at a Bio School meeting, about the President’s wife’s cake. No doubt there was more to it than that, but some of the President’s public remarks about the incident were contradicted by faculty (who were present for the offending remark). In the end, nobody seemed sure just what happened to precipitate Schraeder’s exodus, and there was much whispering that the Prez and his VPI totally mucked up Schraeder’s firing to boot.
As usual, people were left in the dark; suspicions and skepticism prevailed. There are numerous versions of the “de-Schraeder” story. They're all pretty wacky.
In December (of 2010), it was announced that Bill Kelly, former SOCCCD Vice Chancellor, would temporarily fill in as dean. Kelly had served as Dean of IVC’s School of Math and Science from July 2004 to 2007, so he seemed to be a good choice.
* * *Well, Schraeder’s permanent replacement has now been hired. According to the “feature story” of Irvine Valley College's house organ, “the President’s Open Door,”
…Dr. Lianna Zhao [is] the new dean of Mathematics, Science and Engineering. Dr. Zhao has over 20 years of full-time post-secondary teaching experience, 14 of them in the California Community College system….I’ve already heard good things about Zhao, and one reliable friend assures me that she’s good. Still, I was taken aback by what I learned of her background in Roquemore’s chirpy “open door” story:
Dr. Zhao began teaching at Capital Institute of Medicine in Beijing, China, where she served as a full-time assistant professor from January 1983 to September 1985.I looked into “Capital Institute,” and nothing negative seems to pop up (it looks positive). But then there’s this:
In the US, she first worked as a part-time teaching and research assistant with assignments in biology and zoology at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana, from 1985 to 1988. [This is also where she got her MS.] She continued her teaching career as a full-time faculty member for Quantum University School of Chiropractic in Pico Rivera, teaching human anatomy, physiology, and nutrition from 1994 to 1997. From 1997 to 2003 she was a full-time professor teaching biology, chemistry, human anatomy, and physiology at Imperial Valley College near El Centro.NLU ain’t impressive, that’s for sure. (I looked it up.) And, let’s face it, Zhao's Imperial Valley College gig is nothing to write home about. I think they’re so hard up down there that they no longer require hires to speak any known language.
But the real doozy here is the in-between institution: Quantum University School of Chiropractic [QUSC] (in freakin’ Pico Rivera).
I couldn’t make up a worse sounding school.
“Quantum” is a word that has come to signify “pseudoscience”—when, that is, it is appealed to outside the setting of atomic physics. And “chiropractic”? Don’t even get me started.
"Well," you say. "Don’t be unfair. Maybe this Quantum University is all right after all."
I did a little looking and it turns out that QUSC is part of (and may well be identical to) something called Quantum-Veritas International University Systems (QVIUS). You can read all about the dismal history of QUSC/QVIUS here:
History of (1) The University of Pasadena, (2) Pasadena College of Chiropractic, (3) Southern California College of Chiropractic, (4) Quantum University
The upshot: Quantum U is one of a series of half-assed alternative medicine institutions (first in Pasadena, later in Pico Rivera) guided by “vitalists”—practitioners on the seriously flaky end of the alternative medicine spectrum. –You know, the end populated by homeopaths and believers in mysterious, unverifiable, impercetible occult forces and entities.
Not only that, but the damn place seems never to have enjoyed accreditation, at least not during Zhao's stay. Earlier, it had secured quasi-accreditation—with the flakier of the two Chiro camps (just imagine!), which promptly went kaput, leading to nonaccreditation, unseemly scrambles, closures, toga parties, and whatnot.
I think the place regrouped in an apartment above somebody’s garage.
OK, so our Ms. Zhao got one of her degrees at one of the lesser Louisiana institutions (yeah, Louisiana, where education is priority 12); then she taught for four years at a flakoid chiropractic/vitalistic college that got its ticket pulled; then she taught for a while amongst the cactus and rattlesnakes of El Centro.
She may be great anyway. I guess it’s possible. But I haven’t seen worse paper on a hire since Howard Gensler, former administrator of obscure (and troubled) "Northrop U." (Gensler was Raghu Mathur's curious choice to serve as IVC Dean of the School of Humanities and Languages; he flamed out amid the "Howard Hilton" fiasco; now, he's a tenured load at Saddleback.)
One more thing: starting in 2004, Zhao quit teaching and went into administration at Imperial. She became a chair. Then in 2010 she became a dean. And now she’s at IVC.
I do wish her the best of luck.
*Tea Partiers, this is irony. I'm saying that this should have been a red flag. Got it?