Minnesota professor finalist for MU College of Education position

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | 11:47 a.m. CST; updated 11:26 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 7, 2013

COLUMBIA — Matthew Burns, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota’s flagship campus, is one of two finalists for a position at MU’s College of Education.

Burns is vying with Larry James to become division executive director of the College of Education. The position involves oversight of nine graduate academic programs with 60 faculty and 29 professional staff, according to the job description.


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James’ candidacy has garnered criticism from his work as director of the Behavioral Science Consultation Team at Guantánamo Bay in 2003 and 2007. This same team, again led by James, later operated out of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to James’ curriculum vitae. His roles at the detention camp and prison have raised ethical questions regarding the involvement of medical professionals in a military setting.

According to a previous Missourian report, James refuted the allegations that he was involved in the implementation of unethical interrogation tactics.

“Absolutely not. I did not have command authority,” James said. “I was a consultant to a commanding general.”

In a phone interview Wednesday, Burns said he didn’t know about James. “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said.

He learned about the position through an email about job listings.

“I found it intriguing for a couple of different reasons,” Burns said. “I believe the College of Education is well positioned for some exciting innovations.”

Burns has been a professor at the University of Minnesota since 2004, serving as coordinator of the School Psychology Program since 2006. He also functions as co-director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research, in which he is responsible for overseeing research regarding children’s learning methods.

As Division Executive Director, Burns said he hopes to draw upon his entrepreneurial background and history as a collaborator to not only engage cross-departmental education, but also the greater community at large.

Burns, who has already participated in an initial interview with the search committee via Skype, will be in Columbia on Jan. 30 for an in-person interview.

James is expected to arrive at MU for his interview the first week of February.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Tracy Greever-Rice January 17, 2013 | 6:17 p.m.

If Professor Burns has never been personally responsible for kidnapping, I mean 'transporting', 12 and 14 year old children, clad in manacles with completely shrouded heads for a flight that lasted over a dozen hours, making them terrified of being asphyxiated and without giving them any information on their destination, nor the length of their (chargeless) imprisonment, nor informing their parents of their whereabouts for YEARS, he'll be one up on the competition.

If Professor Burns has never sat passively by, sanguinely sipping coffee while watching terrified prisoners being being beaten and humiliated and tortured, he'll have a leg up in that regard too.

If Professor Burns has never been the second author on rationalization for his profession's direct and active role in devising methods of torturing political prisoners, he'll be steps up the ethical behavior - as a human and psychology professional - ladder over James.

Larry James has demonstrated, including patting himself on his back for participating in, a willingness to treat parents with absolute disregard and to condemn children to open-ended incarceration because they might 'know' something...

Because we all know what hugely credible witnesses and decisionmakers early adolescents are. That's why we let pre- and young adolescents drive automobiles, vote, by alcohol, by cigarettes, treat marijuana as a misdemeanor, serve in the military, get credit cards, keep the hours they choose, live independently, pursue the educational venue of their choice, and choose to use birth control, including having an abortion...

Oh, wait, we don't allow kids between the ages of 12 and 14 to do any of that... Why? Because 'researchers' like Larry James have told us repeatedly that they are not developmentally competent, they lack the judge due to their phase of brain development, to engage in any of those activities and responsibilities. And yet... he consciously made the decision to kidnap, I mean 'transport', children of precisely this age to 'interrogate'.

He could have resigned. He could have refused. He could have accepted a discharge - even a dishonorable one - in order to behave ethically and morally. He chose not to. Now in addition to his big military pension, he wants Missouri taxpayers to pay him to train Missouri's K12 educators?

Why stop with a torturer and kidnapper, I mean 'transporter', who imagines himself a 'lesser of evils', if the committee can just wait a few decades, Sandusky might be available.

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