Carmola resigns tenured professorship

MIDDLEBURY — A Middlebury College professor who on July 11 pleaded no-contest to a charge of embezzlement from the Salisbury Historical Society has resigned her tenured position at the college.
Kateri Carmola, an associate professor of political philosophy who has been on the college faculty since 2001, was accused of embezzling $4,500 from the historical society over a three-month period while she served as treasurer of the organization in 2010.
The Vermont State Police began an investigation of the incident in December 2010, after Carmola had explained to other board members why she had used the funds, returned the money and stepped down from the board.
“(Carmola) advised that she did in fact take the money out of the historical society’s bank account because she did not have enough money to fund her expenses,” VSP trooper Joseph Szarejko wrote in his court affidavit. “Carmola advised that she transferred the money out of the historical society’s account and into hers so that she could pay for her airfare and other expenses for the trips.”
Carmola received an 18-month deferred sentence, with the opportunity to have her record expunged if she commits no further offenses.
In July, college administrators said they were reviewing the court proceedings and had no further comment at that time.
Earlier this month, however, Carmola notified colleagues and her students that, effective on Dec. 31, she would be stepping down from her tenured position. According to the college, she will remain on leave at the college until the spring of 2013 with the title of visiting research scholar.
A Nov. 10 article in the Middlebury Campus, the college’s student newspaper, reported that Carmola told the paper her resignation was due to the legal difficulties of the past year. Carmola declined to comment to the Independent.
Xian Chiang-Waren, a senior at the college and one of Carmola’s advisees, said she and many others were upset by the news.
“We were all aware last spring that there were events unfolding in (Carmola’s) personal life, but we had no idea that it would end up affecting her job at Middlebury,” wrote Chiang-Waren in an email. “The events within the school that led to her resignation happened completely silently. None of her students or her advisees knew it was happening. I think that if it had been public, she would have had a lot of support: faculty, students, and a great deal of alumni would have rallied around her.”
Many of Carmola’s ratings on Middkid.com, a site that collects unofficial course evaluations from students, speak to her passion for political science, her rigorous classes and her ability to make even dull topics interesting.
“She’s a whip-smart professor, an incredible mentor, and had we known that the school was at risk of losing her, we would have immediately let it be known to the Political Science department, the administration, and Professor Carmola herself that we support her 100 percent,” said Chiang-Waren.
Professor Allison Stanger, chair of the college’s Political Science department, said she didn’t learn of Carmola’s resignation until earlier this month, at the same time as students and colleagues learned of it.
Stanger said the college is seeking another professor to fill Carmola’s post — according to Carmola’s faculty page on the college’s website, her focus is on “ancient and modern political theory, and the legal and ethical issues of modern warfare.” But Stanger said the vacancy is not urgent — the department has enough staff to fill all of its required courses next semester.
“And (Carmola) was already scheduled to be on leave next year, so that gives us a little more time,” said Stanger. “When it’s all said and done, we should have excellent coverage.”
Alison Byerly, provost and executive vice president at the college, declined to comment further on the matter, citing the college’s official statement on the topic:
“Both the college and Professor Carmola have agreed not to discuss the matter publicly in further detail.”
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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