KNAU and Arizona News
4:54 am
Fri June 20, 2008

Iraq University Hires Owen Cargol

Flagstaff, AZ – In 2001 Owen Cargol was president of NAU for just four months before a male colleague's sexual harassment complaint forced him to resign. According to the NAU employee, whose name was never released, Cargol grabbed his testicles in a locker room. Following the incident Cargol sent the employee email messages seeking the same level of what he called playfulness and affection.

Cargol's checkered past was well publicized but apparently not in the Middle East.

YOUNG: All you had to do was go online and look for his name under Google.

That's Jeremy Young a graduate student at Indiana University who wrote about Cargol in his blog Progressive Historians. Young grew up in Flagstaff and was a high school student here when Cargol's sex scandal blew up.

YOUNG: I was bored one night and said oh my goodness he's in the New York Times.

The Times wrote Cargol had been hired by the American University of Iraq to be its first chancellor last year. On the school's Web site, the mission statement says they aspire to lead the transformation of Iraq into a liberal and democratic society. The non profit institute was founded by Iraq's president and prime minister.

Inside Higher Ed reports that Cargol resigned from the American University in April for personal reasons and was not in good health. They said they were unaware of any incidents or allegations when Cargol was hired.

Prior to his job at the American University Cargol was provost of Abu Dhabi University in the United Arab Emirates.

University Officials in the Middle East could not be reached for comment in time for this story's deadline. And Cargol's whereabouts are unknown.

Kay McKay was president of the Arizona Board of Regents and helped hire Cargol at NAU. She says his stint in the Middle East didn't surprise her.

MCKAY: He was extremely charming. He was very vibrant. He was very charismatic. My new motto is beware of the charismatic they don't have depth. He's a very good interviewing candidate. And he interviews beautifully.

The fifty year old had a wife at the time and two kids. McKay says after he stepped down at NAU Cargol had attempted to get another education job in the U-S.

MCKAY: He did try a couple of jobs in the United States. They of course called me I said I could not personally recommend him. Anyone could look it up because it was public record he would never receive another educational position in the United States.

When McKay and the rest of the board of regents went through the hiring process eight years ago they checked his references and talked to many people associated with the University of Maine at Augusta where he was president.

MCKAY: Nothing in the background showed that he'd ever displayed any inappropriate behavior before that.

McKay says the Cargol incident was the most traumatic the university has ever gone through.

MCKAY: They're tough old birds these universities they are. They can weather a lot of things and this is about as bad as it gets.

But McKay says they were able to recover. Current President John Haeger was next in line to receive the top position at NAU.

For Arizona Public Radio I'm Laurel Morales in Flagstaff.