Inquiry into job fixing after whistle is blown

August 11, 2000

The carabinieri, Italy's para-military police, are investigating allegations of job fixing at the University of Cassino.

Inquiries centre on allegations that a teaching position was filled without the correct appointment procedures being completed.

A commission comprising one academic from the university faculty offering the job, and four senior academics from other universities, is supposed to hold a competitive exam or concorso involving all candidates.

The investigation officially began after Paolo Russo, one of the candidates and an associate professor at Cassino, made a formal complaint to the local judiciary.

He said he had received a telephone call from one of the commission members suggesting that he would do well to withdraw his candidacy because the commissioners had already decided who would be appointed to the job of full professor of pedagogy in the humanities faculty.

"I got a call from the member of the commission who works at Cassino," said Professor Russo. "He told me that he was calling 'in friendship' and that if I insisted on applying for the post I would end up with a loss of face (una brutta figura) because the three short-listed candidates, as well as the final winner of the exam, had already been decided."

Under Italian rules for assigning academic posts, the commission chooses three suitable candidates. One is then selected by the university department where the job is and the other two are placed on a national list, from where other universities can call them.

The system was created to discourage reciprocal deals between commission members who might be tempted to favour proteges, friends or relatives.

The carabinieri visited Cassino's administrative offices and seized documents relevant to the concorso.

They have also ordered the telephone company to give them records of telephone calls made by the commission member who allegedly advised Professor Russo to withdraw.

According to Professor Russo, several other of the 15 original candidates received similar calls.

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