College Hires Private Eye to Find Who Told Comptroller About Lavish Work Terms

Move comes after Finance Ministry demanded employment agreement of Emek Yezreel College professor be altered.

Emek Yezreel College officials hired a private investigator to find out who wrote a letter complaining to the State Comptroller about extravagant terms of employment of one of the college's professors.

The letter prompted the Finance Ministry to demand that the agreement be altered, and led to a critical report by the State Comptroller on the way senior professors were appointed at the college.

In 2010 the college signed an employment agreement with Professor Joram Feldon, who was appointed Vice President for Research and Development after serving as a professor of biology and director of the Laboratory of Behavioural Neurobiology at the (ETH) Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. The agreement includes the payment of a fulltime salary, even though it required that Feldon spend only 180 days in Israel in the first two years of his tenure; covering costs of a Tel Aviv apartment to the tune of NIS 15,000 a month; covering expenses of taxis from Tel Aviv to the college in Jezreel Valley, and a clause stating that all furniture and appliances bought for Feldon would remain his at the end of the contract.

After the State Comptroller received a letter of complaint concerning the employment agreement, the college hired a private investigator to find out who wrote it. Because of the letter, the agreement was brought to the attention of the planning and budget committee of the Finance Ministry's Wages and Labor Department, which declared that the contract had not been submitted for approval, was not appropriate or acceptable, and ordered the employment terms to be downgraded.

Meanwhile last November Feldon was appointed president of the college, but a month later the college's governing council decided to cancel the appointment. Feldon petitioned the Labor Court, where he claimed that Professor Aliza Shenhar, the college president, had requested to be appointed rector, and asked to alter the college regulations to enable her appointment. Feldon claims that the college began backtracking on his appointment after he refused to promise her the post of rector.

The college claims that Feldon did not disclose the fact that he continued to be employed by ETH, but rather told the governing council that he retired from his Swiss post. Furthermore, unflattering reports as to his work in Switzerland reached the council.

According to the Comptroller's report, Shenhar and the college CEO received credit cards without specifying for what use, changed college regulations in contradiction of the Council for Higher Education's directives, and often dealt with suppliers without submitting tenders.

The college responded that, "The College has corrected, when necessary, the matters raised by the State Comptroller's remarks, as received by the college during and after his examination. As for Professor Feldon, we cannot comment on his case, since it is the subject of a case heard in the Nazareth Labor Court."