President Terminates Professor Mid-Semester

Isiah Reyes

Students expecting to attend the Tuesday science lecture concerning the end of the universe were unaware that speaker Paul Kazarian has faced an end to his employment at GCC.

Interim President Dawn Lindsay terminated the physics professor Oct. 20 on the grounds that his U.S. Immigration Services work permit had expired.

“My work authorization?has expired, and they have decided that in the middle of the semester it is the right time to terminate me,” Kazarian said. “They say they can’t pay me and I am forbidden to coming to my class too.”

Lindsay said she could not talk about confidential personnel matters. Ron Harlan, dean of Instructional Services, also declined to comment.

According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Kazarian appealed against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for an “extraordinary ability” visa six years ago.

The Administrative Appeals Office found that Kazarian failed to establish any of the necessary criteria for an “extraordinary ability” visa and dismissed the appeal. The case was heard in Pasadena on Dec. 9, 2008 with the decision filed Sept. 4.

Extraordinary ability “means a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”
The District Court found “substantial evidence,” which supported all of the Administrative Appeals Office’s findings.

“I have not done anything unlawful or wrong. I’m allowed to walk on campus,” Kazarian said. “I’m not banned from campus. I don’t have to be accompanied by the police. I’m just like any regular citizen.”

According to Kazarian, he was not allowed to go back to his office to clear it without the aid of a police officer. Last Friday, as Kazarian was clearing his office, an incident occurred with John Leland, division chair of Physical Sciences.

“[Kazarian] came Friday to pick up his things, and Leland spoke to Kazarian in a very degrading and dehumanizing matter,” said Harut Nalbandyan, 19, a witness of the incident.

“This whole process could have been handled very differently and that’s what I’m trying to point out to the school,” Nalbandyan said. He is currently writing a petition for students to sign which will describe how disreputable the entire procedure was.

Between 2000 and 2004, Kazarian’s work at GCC was on a volunteer basis. He has served as a math, physics and programming tutor, an adjunct physics and mathematics instructor and was a speaker for the Science Lecture Series. In 2005, immigration decided not to renew his work permit.

“For four years I worked as a volunteer at the college. When I got my work permit, I was employed,” Kazarian said. “My legal situation has not changed. It has been the same for all this time.”

This semester, Kazarian was signed on as a full-time employee and had a full list of physics courses.

“It’s very unpleasant that I cannot continue teaching the classes that I have started,” Kazarian said.

His classes are now being taught by John Gerz, assistant professor of physics.
Hrach Beglaryan, 19, a chemical engineering major, talked about his appreciation for Kazarian.

“He helped me out a lot. I work at the planetarium and I got my job at the learning center because of him,” Beglaryan said.
The college decided to cancel the science lecture “From the Beginning to the End … and Everything in Between (System Error: Please Reinstall the Universe and Reboot),” which Kazarian was scheduled to address, even though the lectures on campus do not have to be conducted by college employees.

“My sincere apologies for not being able to do the science lecture series Tuesday,” Kazarian said. “On the other hand, I understand that the auditorium is obviously under college control, and they legally do have the right to decide who they want to enter, and who they don’t want to enter the auditorium. So they did exercise that right.”

Kazarian still plans to continue doing research at Caltech. In the meantime, he still plans to visit the campus from time to time.

“I’ll be around. I don’t plan to leave the college for good.”