Daniel Cassidy and Martin Hamilton

One of the strangest things about the Cassidy Scandal is the fact that someone as stupid, untalented and underqualified as Cassidy was able to get a professorship in an academic institution. However, a quick look at that academic institution, New College of California, is sufficient to show that it was unlike any other centre of learning in the western world.

Founded in 1971 by a paedophile Jesuit, Father John Leary, who was fleeing a scandal in Gonzaga involving, amongst other things, an assault on a 12 year old boy, New College quickly became a centre for radical, left-leaning Catholics. After Leary’s death, control passed to Martin Hamilton, whose name is in third place in the Acknowledgements in Cassidy’s daft book, after Peter Quinn and Cassidy’s brother Michael. Throughout its history, New College had very poor governance and was frequently in trouble with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

I found this comment on a blog by a poet who taught in the College, Adam Cornford:

“NCOC programs operated as separate fiefdoms in a kind of academic feudalism with Hamilton as king. He doled out money and set salaries in a completely arbitrary way, altered budgets without notice, created entire new programs with little or no process, and spent college money on pet projects (like the Roxie cinema) that were quixotic at best. He rewarded two categories of faculty: those who sucked up to him, and those he feared. He repeatedly and persistently undermined the governance structures set up in advance of each WASC accreditation visit by disempowering or simply ignoring them, despite the fact that WASC had repeatedly criticized NCOC for lacking such governance. The patronage system and wild inequality in treatment of programs predictably combined with the lack of authentic academic governance to create suspicion and resentment between programs. It’s pretty clear at this distance that this was deliberate divide-and-rule.

Likewise, Hamilton repeatedly appointed totally unqualified people he just happened to like to two of the most important positions in the College: Registrar and Development Director. NC only had one properly credentialed Registrar in its history, and the last two or three were so bad that when the US Dept of Ed came in to do an audit, they found that academic records were a complete shambles (which accords with my personal experience). Hamilton resisted even having a Development office for many years, preferring to schmooze small gifts out of a few acquaintances he presumably felt were no threat to his power. The next-to-last “Development Director” was a very nice jazz musician who confessed freely that he had absolutely no fundraising experience. In general, there was a culture of cronyism and complete lack of accountability in the administration, again commented on by WASC in repeated visiting team reports and Commission proceedings.”

I wonder who the ‘nice jazz musician’ was? Could this be Cassidy? Whether it was or not, it is quite clear that this atmosphere of cronyism and lack of governance was a situation entirely suited to a silver-tongued jackass like Cassidy, who was able to schmooze his way into a professorship in 1995 without proper qualifications, publications or skills. In 2007, WASC finally pulled the plug on New College and Cassidy was left unemployed.

However, the final days of New College were marked by a much bigger scandal. The full details can be found here: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/I-am-a-predator-ruin-follows-him-everywhere-3187513.php For those who can’t be bothered following the link, here is a thumbnail sketch. A young Nepalese man called Niroula claimed to be a relative of the Nepalese royal family. He conned Martin Hamilton into thinking that he would eventually bail out the college with a million dollar donation, if Hamilton would just allow him to continue his studies. Meanwhile, Niroula was conning a Japanese woman who he pretended to be in love with out of her life savings (in spite of the fact that he was gay) and his activities eventually even led to the murder of a lonely old man with money. Along the way, there were allegations that Hamilton gave him fake grades, though Hamilton denies that he signed the papers.

Whatever happened, this scandal was one of the factors which finally convinced the authorities to close New College down. Niroula is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes. Amazing though it may seem, there was actually an even bigger con-man on the campus of New College during its last days than ‘Professor’ Daniel Cassidy.

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