Retired Army psychologist dropped from campus job search

Feb 15, 2013

MU’s College of Education has put its search for a new executive director on hold, following controversy over a finalist’s background as a psychologist at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

The school will appoint an interim replacement rather than hire retired Army Col. Larry James, or a second finalist from the University of Minnesota.

James is dean of professional psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His 22-year military career includes two stints overseeing interrogations at the U.S. military detention centers.

Faculty and student critics said James was involved in the abuse of detainees. He has denied the charges.

The college’s strategic communications director, Barb Peterson, said the public’s concerns were part of the committee’s decision.

"We encouraged faculty, staff, students and community members to provide input on both candidates. We valued and respected the opinions of all the stakeholders, and the search committee and the dean gave those opinions serious consideration. However, neither individual was the right person at this time," Peterson said. 

James also had coordinated mental health resources at the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Mike Pullis, head of the faculty search committee and an associate professor of special education at MU, will fill the position for the time being.