The Grishkoff Case


PROFESSOR’S CASE RAISES ISSUES OF
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND FACULTY GOVERNANCE

October, 2004

Click here for the news release from Grishkoff’s attorney 

Assistant Professor Glenn Grishkoff has taught at the University of Idaho since 1997. He has participated in twelve juried and invitational art exhibitions and seven solo exhibitions, including exhibitions in Japan, California, Washington, Montana, and Idaho.  He recently won the top award at the national competition at the Paris Gibson Museum in Great Falls, Montana.

Assistant Professor Grishkoff’s research is based in the tradition of his mentor, the well-known and respected ceramic artist Paul Soldner.  His current work is heavily influenced by trips to Japan from which he has incorporated the aesthetic of the tea ceremony and the hand making of related tools as an art form.  His work is primarily mixed media containing ceramics and other materials.  He has recently been invited to participate in the 60th Scripps College Annual Ceramics Invitational Exhibition, one of the most prestigious ceramic exhibitions in North America.

 Professor Grishkoff received above average evaluations each year of his employment at the University of Idaho.  In April of 2003 he received a positive third year review that concluded: “His research record positions him as having an emerging national and international profile, which when coupled with his research activity, has given the result of having attained a notable national reputation.”

 Then, against all normal expectations and against the wishes of the art department, Dean Joe Zeller rejected the third year review and judged Grishkoff’s work as “insignificant.” On June 20, 2003 Grishkoff received a letter of non-renewal from interim president Gary Michael. Sally Machlis, chair of the art department, requested that Provost Pitcher reconsider the case.  Even with thirty letters of support from Grishkoff’s national peers, Pitcher upheld the Dean Zeller’s decision.

Two fundamental issues are at stake here for all faculty at the University of Idaho:

  1. Academic freedom is at risk when research valued by colleagues and national peers is denigrated by a dean.
  2. Faculty governance is undermined when professors are denied the right to determine who their colleagues are and what their department’s goals should be.

We ask that all UI faculty (including retired faculty) seriously to consider signing the petition on the back and returning it to Dale Graden, history department.  Over 170 signatures were gathered on this petition.

March, 2005: Grishkoff’s Case Does Not Go Forward

Since the passage of the right-to-work (for less) legislation, legal protections for Idaho’s employees have eroded dramatically. Two Supreme Court decisions have also made it increasingly difficult for Idahoans to resolve their workplace grievances. One decision gives employers the right to terminate employees even if they give fraudulent reasons for doing so. The most recent decision would force employees to pay their bosses’ legal fees if their suits are found to be without merit.

A total of $10,200, including $6,900 from an art auction, was raised for Grishkoff’s legal defense. But now, after consultation with his attorney, he has decided not to file a suit. Delegates at IFT’s 2005 convention in May will be asked to return $5,000 of the money raised to Grishkoff. He is now (2005) artist in residence in Joseph, Oregon and we wish him the very best in the future. Due to the arbitrary actions of Dean Zeller, the UI has lost a great artist and teacher.