ISU grad appeals ban from campus

Tim Paluch

Within 30 days, vice president for Business and Finance Warren Madden will make a recommendation to interim President Richard Seagrave on whether to lift an order banning an ISU alumnus and former faculty member from the ISU campus.

At a closed hearing May 11, Hadi Tabbara, former post-doctoral research assistant for the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, appealed an October 19, 2000, edict that banned him from setting foot on university soil.

The ban came after several ISU faculty and staff members complained about Tabbara and claimed they feared for their safety.

Madden said the appeal fell under his jurisdiction, and Seagrave’s decision, after Madden’s recommendation, is the last university appeal for Tabbara.

“The decision he was appealing involved actions by DPS and employment issues, and in both cases personnel functions report to me,” Madden said. “This hearing is the last internal action he has before he appeals outside the university.”

If Tabbara isn’t satisfied with Seagrave’s decision, he can appeal to the Iowa Board of Regents, Madden said.

Tabbara said he was confident the hearing went well, saying that the university “did not produce any credible evidence to the effect that I have threatened anyone at Iowa State.”

Tabbara said, in addition to the ban being lifted, he expects an apology from the university.

“At the end of the meeting, they asked me what would be a reasonable resolution that I would accept, and I asked for a letter of apology and a rescinding of the ban for me to come to the ISU grounds,” he said. “I specifically asked for the apology to me and my family for the pain and suffering that this thing has caused me.”

Tabbara also wants the university to clear the air with former colleagues.

“I asked [the university] for reconciliation with all those people who I have had working relationships with, so I can be put on a path to rehabilitating those relationships,” he said.

Bill Kunerth, professor emeritus of journalism, testified at the hearing on Tabbara’s behalf.

Kunerth, who heard of Tabbara’s case through a mutual friend in December 2000, said he was “impressed by Hadi.”

“His statements were consistent and not contradictory,” Kunerth said in a prepared statement at the hearing. “The university was obligated to investigate the complaints about Tabbara’s behavior but, on the basis of the evidence that I have seen, over-reacted in banning him from campus.”

Tabbara, who is currently working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Phoenix, said he doesn’t plan to pursue legal action at this point.

“Iowa State has welcomed me, and it’s unfortunate that I had to suffer, but I am still loyal to Iowa State and don’t want to cause any tensions,” he said.

Tabbara said the entire ordeal, dating back several years, was blown out of proportion and snowballed into severe allegations.

“Somebody decided that this is a person that is not like us, who speaks with emotion and passion,” he said. “It was a hysteria.”

Madden said the hearing was not the first of its kind, and all involved handled it professionally.

“The hearing was well-conducted, and all of the parties presented the information, had witnesses testify and outlined the issues,” he said.

Tabbara said he anticipates an ending to the ordeal so he can return to campus anytime he wants.

“I’m looking forward for this episode to be corrected,” he said. “Iowa State will always be a second home.”