The Business Times
Thursday, Oct 11, 2012
SINGAPORE - Pari Sara Shirazi, the former president of Singapore-based arts campus Tisch Asia, has filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court against New York University (NYU) and three top university administrators for wrongful termination and defamation.
Iranian-born Dr Shirazi claims that the defendants had told key Singapore officials in the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore-based Tisch Asia board members that she had improperly transferred funds - amounting to US$7-8 million - from New York's Tisch School of the Arts (TSOA) to Tisch Asia over a number of years.
These defamatory statements, among others, she said, damaged her reputation in Singapore and her future professional and economic prospects.
She was later removed as a director on MediaCorp's board on May 21, 2012.
"As a result of the defamatory statements, Dr Shirazi's reputation in Singapore has been severely harmed, and, upon information and belief, she will be unable to secure future employment in Singapore, thus resulting in future economic losses," says the suit.
Dr Shirazi is suing to clear her name in Singapore, be reinstated in her faculty position, and for damages, among other things.
She left Tisch Asia as president in November 2011.
Tisch Asia is the Singapore overseas programme of NYU-affiliated Tisch School of the Arts (TSOA).
She claims that her departure came about after the defendants blamed her for financial shortfalls at Tisch Asia and that her removal went against university policy and the Faculty Handbook.
Central to her claims are discussions with the National University of Singapore, which Dr Shirazi began during her tenure as president, for an undergraduate programme with Tisch Asia.
After her departure, she alleges, NYU president John Sexton and provost David McLaughlin wanted to gain control of those negotiations with NUS.
This was to "move administrative responsibility for Tisch Asia from TSOA to the NYU provost office and its Global University, administered through that office, thereby securing for the central university the anticipated future profits from establishment of a joint undergraduate programme" with NUS, she claims.
And if negotiations were unsuccessful, this would pave the way to relocate programme offerings at Tisch Asia to other NYU programme locations, she says.
Dr Shirazi's lawsuit revealed how much financial aid that the EDB had extended to Tisch Asia.
The EDB loaned Tisch Asia US$9.6 million to cover both campus renovation and expected revenue shortfalls through 2011.
The EDB had also given Tisch Asia grants totalling US$6.13 million through 2016 to offset taxes on Singapore tuition.