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A Legacy of Betrayal
"I never promised Dr. Bernofsky a tenured position at Tulane."
"I did not feel Dr. Bernofsky was qualified for a tenured position at Tulane."
Dr. Rune L. Stjernholm
Affidavit of May 14, 1996
"The crime of intentionally lying after being duly sworn (to tell the truth) by a notary public, court clerk or other official. This false statement may be made in testimony in court, administrative hearings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, as well as by signing or acknowledging a written legal document (such as [an] affidavit . . .) known to contain false information." From: The Real Life Dictionary of the Law, Hill, G. N. and Hill, K. H., General Publishing Group, Inc., 1997.
Subornation of Perjury:
"The crime of encouraging, inducing or assisting another in the commission of perjury..." Ibid.
What Stjernholm Actually Said About Tenure
[Department of Biochemistry Letterhead] [View PDF]
April 14, 1989Blackwell Evans, M.D.
Tulane Medical School
Dear Dr. Evans:
It is with great pleasure that I recommend Carl Bernofsky, Ph.D. for a tenured position in the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Bernofsky has been at Tulane since 1975 doing outstanding research in the area of pyridine nucleotide chemistry, free radical modification of proteins and nucleic acids, and lately in the field of spin-trapping of free radicals. During the last five years he has been awarded more than $500,000 of research grants which generated $175,000 of indirect cost to the school. His latest grant, which ends in June of 1991, comes from the Air Force of Scientific Research dealing with mechanisms of free radical tissue damage. Dr. Bernofsky regularly teaches in our Advanced Biochemistry course on Energy Transduction (20 lectures). When Dr. Steele retires in June of 1990, the Department will be short on instructors teaching graduate courses and Dr. Bernofsky will be asked to increase his teaching activities. Dr. Bernofsky is an intensely dedicated researcher and a superb lecturer who deserves to be on the tenured track. Sincerely yours,
s/ Rune L. Stjernholm
Rune L. Stjernholm, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Stjernholm's Earlier Promises of Tenure
"Dr. Bernofsky was appointed Visiting Associate Professor with the understanding that when some retirements came up he would be moved into a tenured position. Meanwhile, Dr. Bernofsky would contribute to his own salary and provide for his group from grants."
"During the stay at Tulane, Dr. Bernofsky has provided our graduate program with some outstanding lectures. His contributions as dissertation advisor, prelim. examiner and organizer of discussion groups have convinced our faculty that he would be our first choice in replacing a retired member."July 10, 1978
On July 10, 1978, Stjernholm wrote a letter of reference to John A. DeMoss, Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas, Houston.
Similar statements were made in other letters of reference. (emphasis added)
"Dr. Bernofsky is a competent cell biologist and biochemist and therefore can offer expertise in areas where the Department is deficient. It is proposed that we allow Dr. Bernofsky to develop his own research programs, to advise and direct graduate students and to become an integral part of the tenured faculty. Within a few years several retirements of the present faculty will be in effect and Dr. Bernofsky is our primary choice for replacement. With this realization, the Department will continue to sponsor his research by offering adequate laboratory and office space as well as the necessary secretarial help. Dr. Bernofsky will have no administrative duties and he will carry only a limited voluntary teaching load."Sept. 27, 1977 On Sept. 27, 1977, Stjernholm prepared a statement to the U.S. Dept. of HEW in support of a grant application for Bernofsky.
The application was countersigned by the Dean of Tulane Medical School. (emphasis added)
"INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Bernofsky is currently Visiting Associate Professor in Biochemistry at Tulane University School of Medicine. The Study Section has learned that his department chairman intends him to be a permanent member when a tenured position becomes available. He lists 23 papers and 10 abstracts, the recent ones dealing mainly with pyridine nucleotides or pyridine nucleotide enzymes."Feb/Mar 1977 The Feb/Mar 1977 critique of Bernofsky's research proposal by the NIH Experimental Therapeutics Study Section reflected information it obtained from Stjernholm. (emphasis added)
At a sworn deposition taken April 22, 1996, Bernofsky testified about the numerous discussions he had over the years with Stjernholm in which Stjernholm repeatedly reassured him that he would be proposed for the next tenured position in the Department of Biochemistry. Bernofsky was astonished to learn of Stjernholm's blanket denial in an affidavit that was signed by him on May 14, 1996. However, at Stjernholm's deposition, taken May 23, 1996, it became clear that he had been coerced into signing the affidavit under threat of losing his position at Tulane. Stjernholm's deposition testimony, excerpted below, shows that he was the victim of relentless age discrimination.
A. ...Now I'm close to retirement. I was supposed to step down in '89. . .(Depo., p. 11)
- - - - - - - - -
Q. And when did Fulginiti come in?
A. '89. April of '89. How well I know.
Q. Okay. Why do you say that, sir?
A. He wanted me fired. I was too old. I turned sixty-five in April. And he said, "Rune, better leave."
Q. Because of your age?
A. Yes. "I don't want you around."
Q. He told you that? I see.
Who said that?
Fulginiti. I pointed out that, as a professor, I can go to seventy. And it made him very furious.
BY MR. PHIPPS:
Q. Did he harass you?
A. You bet.
Q. He tried to get you to leave?
Q. Take your job duties and responsibilities away from you?
A. No increases for five years.(Depo., pp. 113-114)
- - - - - - - - -
A. ...[M]y birthday is the 25th, and on that day, I got a letter of termination.
Q. From Fulginiti?
Q. And you refused to resign?
A. Well, I said, "You can appoint an interim Chairman if you want to. . ."(Depo., p. 117)
- - - - - - - - -
A. But I was told to step down.
Q. Pardon me sir?
A. I was told to step down.(Depo., p. 207)
- - - - - - - - -
Q. In 1977, he says that you told him that you would like to make him the next tenured professor --
Q. -- when someone would retire?
Q. But you didn't know when that would be?
A. That's right.
Q. You told him that? That's what he says that you said?
A. Yes. Then I changed my mind, huh?
Q. I don't know.
A. I did.
Q. It would appear to me that you hadn't changed it in 1979, though?
A. No, no.
Q. Because by then --
A. I think in '83, I start getting second thoughts about it.
Q. I understand that.
Q. I have another letter here written to LSU --
Q. -- that you wrote.
A. Dr. Roskoski.
Q. That's the one, sir.
Q. Department of Biochemistry, LSU, third paragraph --
Q. -- make that an exhibit, if you don't mind. And it says here, again, "that when some retirements came up" --
Q. -- "with the understanding -- Dr. Bernofsky was appointed with the understanding that when some retirements came up he would be moved into a regular tenured position."
A. Uh-huh (affirmative response).
Q. I believe that you meant -- that these weren't lies at the time.
Q. They weren't lies until -- well, they were never lies. I take it back. These were not lies. These were absolutely not lies.
A. No, they were promotions.
Q. They were the truth at the time?
A. Yes, absolutely.(Depo., pp. 106-109)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
DR. CARL BERNOFSKY * CIVIL ACTION * VERSUS * NO. 95-0358 * TULANE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL * SECTION "C" MAG. 2 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
AFFIDAVIT OF DR. RUNE L. STJERNHOLM
PARISH OF ORLEANS
STATE OF LOUISIANA
BEFORE ME, Notary, duly sworn in and for the State and Parish aforesaid, personally came and appeared:
DR. RUNE L. STJERNHOLM
I, Dr. Rune L. Stjernholm, being duly sworn upon my oath depose and say: I served as the Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at Tulane University School of Medicine from 1971 to 1991. During the course of my serving as Chairman, I supervised Dr. Carl Bernofsky. I never promised Dr. Bernofsky a tenured position at Tulane. I may have indicated in letters to other acadamic institutions, to which Dr. Bernofsky was applying for a faculty position, that Dr. Bernofsky was eligible for tenure in an effort to help him secure employment elsewhere. I did not feel Dr. Bernofsky was qualified for a tenured position at Tulane. In fact, my true opinion of Dr. Bernofsky is stated in a letter written by me to former Dean Fulginiti in approximately 1990. (Attached as Exhibit 1) I have read the above affidavit of this and one (1) other page and swear to the best of my knowledge and belief it is true.s/ Rune L. Stjernholm
DR. RUNE L. STJERNHOLM
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED BEFORE
ME ON THIS 14 DAY OF MAY, 1996.
s/ Sharon F. Moore
- Exhibit 1 was a double-spaced draft on plain paper (not a letterhead), that was undated, unsigned, and without markings such as the stamp that is routinely applied to all correspondence received in the dean's office. It was, however, filled with disparaging remarks, including the false claim of Bernofsky's demand for a salary increase.
- Following his perjured testimony, Stjernholm remained at Tulane, where he enjoyed employment in the Department of Biochemistry until his retirement on June 30, 2003 at age 79.
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