Sometimes when public employees find trouble, it’s the taxpayers that lose the most.

It seems that’s the case with Idaho State University professor Thomas F. Hale, who has been receiving his nearly $70,000 annual salary for the past four years while not teaching a single class at the school.  Hale was put on administrative leave in early 2007 when he was charged with a felony in Utah.

The professor blames the school for not allowing him to teach.

Hale was indicted in federal court in late 2006 after he allegedly sent a mailer containing a substance with a message that the substance could be hantavirus. The mailer went to a Utah-based bankruptcy trustee handling a case of his. originally wrote about the case in December, but five months later, nothing has changed.  “It’s still the status quo,” said ISU spokesman Mark Levine.  Hale’s court date was set for March 28, but it appears that did not happen.  It is unclear when his case will go to trial.

The professor says that the government is stalling.  “There’s a reason they are not pushing it and that’s because they don’t have a case,” Hale explained.  “I am at retirement age. They should be leaving me alone.”

This is not the first time Hale and ISU have tangled.  The school fired the professor in 1981 for what he says was “union organizing.” Hale sued the school and was reinstated to his job.  ISU was also forced to pay him $100,000 in a settlement.

As for the nearly $280,000 Hale has received from taxpayers while not teaching since the case began, Levin says the professor should be producing material for the Oral History Project, a program Hale oversees at the school.  “What’s he’s produced, I don’t know,” acknowledged Levin.

But Hale says that the school has frozen his $75,000 budget for the project, making it impossible for him to do any work.  “They had no right to take it,” Hale said of the funding.  “I have no money to buy paper.”

So what is the professor doing with his taxpayer-funded time? “I’m doing what professors do,” he explained.  “I’m preparing, to the best of my abilities, to teach the 10-13 courses I am assigned.” But that’s it; he does not teach, he says he simply prepares to do so.

When asked if he might resign at any point to end the conflict and save Idaho citizens some money, the professor rejected the idea.  “Why would I do that?” he asked.  “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

It seems for now that Hale and the school will continue to remain in limbo while taxpayers continue to fund a non-teaching professor.  ISU’s administrative handbook allows the school to terminate an employee if the person is convicted of a felony, but not until that point.


Join the discussion


About The Author

Dustin Hurst serves as the Communication Director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He graduated from Boise State in 2009. His work has been featured by Fox News, Townhall, Public Sector Inc., the Daily Caller, Reason, Human Events, the Spokesman Review and more. He and his wonderful wife Julia have two cute kids. The family resides in Middleton.


  1. Either fine him $280,000 and expedite the trial or put him back in the classroom and make him earn his money. Who’s the stupid one here ISU or Hale….I vote ISU.

    PS…isn’t tuition going up at ISU

  2. ISU’s hands are tied.

    BTW: Rule #1 of Journalism: spell names correctly. ISU’s spokesman is Mark Levine, not Levin.

  3. An interesting side-light on this is Professor Hale’s difficulties in paying taxes himself.

  4. I had the misfortune of renting an apartment in Mr. Hale’s main residence in 2005 when his “bankruptcy woes” were happening. (I was back at I.S.U. on a sabbatical.) First, he is an attorney who works with bankruptcies and he was scrambling to get out of debts he had incurred before the laws became stricter. For a week, boxes of documents were being removed from the house, usually in the evenings. On two occasions, I witnessed him getting large sums of money out of the bank (We banked at the same location) and put it into travelers cheques. He plead poverty every time any of his tenants requested maintenance, only taking care of items when the written legalities were presented to him. To me, the worst was that he screwed all his tenants out of their security deposits. (I could afford to lose $500; however, many of the young students were seriously impacted.) Oh, and he actually stole furniture I had left for an undergrad student. I had to threaten him with coming back (from Seattle) with the police, before he gave it to its rightful owner. Despite letters to the Dean and the President, ISU made excuses. I have not donated to them since, nor will I until Mr. Hale is terminated. P.S. When I was there, he taught 2 classes, hardly 10-13.

Comments are closed.