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2 ALFRED OFFICIALS CHALLENGE REMOVAL

Two top Alfred State College officials who recently lost their administrative jobs are challenging the college president's version of what happened.

Alfred State President Uma G. Gupta has said the two vice presidents agreed to leave their positions for teaching jobs in the college's business technology department.

But Karla M. Back and James J. Grillo say Gupta dismissed them without explanation.

"There was no discussion at any time. . . . There was no due process, certainly, at all," said Back, the former vice president for academic affairs.

Gupta, through a college spokeswoman, said she stands by her original statements.

Gupta disclosed the changes at a March 30 meeting with faculty and staff. She said Back and Grillo, the vice president for administration and enrollment management, will move to the faculty.

In an interview, Gupta said she had talked about the moves with Grillo and Back, who agreed the timing was right to return to teaching, though she made the final decision.

In interviews, Back and Grillo say Gupta gave them no indication she was dissatisfied with their work performance.

Back came to Alfred State last year from the same technology college in Houston where Gupta served as dean before becoming Alfred State's president in 2003.

Grillo is an Alfred State veteran, working at the college for 33 years. He took his most recent administrative title in 2004, a move that Gupta said they both understood to be temporary.

Grillo said that's not true.

Back and Grillo said they learned of their dismissal by letter half an hour before Gupta announced it to the campus.

Back and Grillo are on paid leave until Aug. 12. For a time, they did not have access to their Alfred State e-mail accounts, Grillo said.

Last week, Back and Grillo met with senior faculty to discuss the changes. Alfred State's College Council has reviewed the removal of Grillo and Back in response to campus concerns.

"The Council found no evidence of illegal, criminal, or immoral action by president Gupta," a council resolution reads.

These are not the first personnel changes made by Gupta.

None of the vice presidents who held their jobs at the time she became president remain in office, and two of three deans also have been replaced.

Further, the same week Gupta replaced Back and Grillo, her executive assistant, Denzil Thies, resigned.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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