Dismissed Prof Attempts to Stay Active in Field

Isiah Reyes

Physics Professor Paul Kazarian attempts to stay active in his field by continuing his research at Caltech after having been terminated from GCC last month, while his former students are trying to adjust to his absence.

On Dec. 31, 2003, Kazarian filed an application for an employment-based immigrant visa for aliens with “extraordinary ability” as a theoretical physicist. In August 2005, the United States and Immigration Service denied the petition.

Kazarian then appealed the denial to the Administration Appeals Office, which found that Kazarian failed to establish the necessary requirements for the “extraordinary ability” visa and dismissed the appeal.

Extraordinary ability, as defined by the Immigration Service, “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.”
There are three criteria that an alien applicant must fulfill in order to be eligible for an “extraordinary ability” visa.

The first is that the alien must have attained national or international acclaim through extensive documentation. The second is for an alien to enter the Unites States to continue their work of “extraordinary ability.” The third is that the alien’s entry into the United States must substantially benefit the country.

Kazarian could have applied for an “exceptional ability” visa. It requires a lesser showing of academic ability and receives second preference. However, Kazarian choose not to apply for this type of visa, saying, “If you get one [type of visa], it’s very hard to change it.”

In addition to qualifying for an “exceptional ability” visa, the alien must also provide evidence that his services are wanted by a United States employer.

Currently, Kazarian is a volunteer researcher at Caltech, working on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) Project.

The project, which is operated by MIT and Caltech, is a facility dedicated to the detection of cosmic gravitational waves and the measurement of these waves for scientific research. It consists of widely separated installations in Louisiana and Washington, and collaborates with similar projects around the world including the European Union and Japan, which together form a global network of gravitational wave observatories.

The results are available for use by the world scientific community.

Back at GCC, students who were enrolled in Kazarian’s classes are trying to adjust to the new professor. His classes are now being taught by John Gerz, assistant professor of physics.

“It was a traumatic experience to have the teacher taken away in the middle of a semester,” Catherine Chan, an earth science major, said. “I already got used to his teaching style and I actually like the online homework site.”

Val Hovanesian, 28, a criminology major, said she enjoyed Kazarian’s teaching method because it captured her attention in a positive way.

Several witnesses reportedly observed John Leland, division chair of Physical Sciences, speak to Kazarian in a very “degrading and dehumanizing” manner when he was clearing his office.

“The actions of the staff while removing Paul Kazarian were appalling to me,” said Hovanesian. “I have never seen a co-worker treat another colleague so disrespectfully.”
Leland declined to comment.

Menoa Aghajani, a student enrolled in Kazarian’s physics 105 class and a member of Kazarian’s Cosmology and Astrophysics club, said, “Kazarian was one of my best instructors that I ever had at GCC and he was such a caring and wise person. [It won’t be] easy to replace him.”

Kazarian’s lecture in the Science Lecture Series was cancelled on Oct. 27. The next lecture in the series is “Mass Extinctions in the Fossil Record,” with geology instructor Catherine Powers. It will be held in the Santa Barbara Building, Room 243 at noon on Nov. 24. It is free and open to the public.