Heinz professor charged with drunken driving multiple times
Heinz School of Public Policy and Management adjunct professor Jeffrey Hunker was charged with drunken driving three times in eight days between Aug. 17 and 25.
Hunker entered a rehabilitation facility in Virginia early last week where he will stay for 28 days, according to a statement from his lawyer in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Hunker’s preliminary court date, originally set for Sept. 9, is being rescheduled for when he returns from rehabilitation.
According to Carnegie Mellon Media Relations, Hunker remains a university professor, though he isn’t teaching now and hasn’t taught at the Heinz School since August 2007, when he became an adjunct professor.
Hunker became dean of the Heinz School in 2001, stepping down in 2003 on personal leave. He was also computer security director for the Clinton administration before coming to Carnegie Mellon.
The university wouldn’t comment on whether or not Hunker is still receiving pay, or on his future status at the university, due to personnel confidentiality.
Hunker’s run-ins with the law end three rough weeks full of personnel drama at the Heinz School, where in late August, former Dean Mark Wessel was found to have possibly awarded an unjustified master’s degree in 2004.
“The ‘master debacle’ I am sure is just an isolated incident, and I believe like many people within the school that this should have been a mere case of oversight with no devious intent whatsoever,” said Anand Nandkumar, a former Ph.D. student at the Heinz School.
Nandkumar expressed his beliefs that both the Wessel and Hunker incidents have no reflection on the school itself.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Heinz School. In fact, the school still has some of the best minds I have ever met,” Nandkumar said.
Nandkumar spoke highly of having worked with both Wessel and Hunker.
Sasha Romanovsky, a current Ph.D. student at the Heinz school, agreed with Nandkumar on both counts.
Romanovksy described Wessel as “a genuinely kind and honorable man,” a description he said he still maintains.
“I have worked with Jeffrey in the past and our meetings have always been positive and productive. While this persists, I’m happy to continue working with him,” Romanovsky said of Hunker.
Hunker was first cited for drunken driving Aug. 17 when he drove into a neighbor’s yard, then ran through a tree and crashed into a house.
Hunker’s blood alcohol level at the time was measured at 0.262 initially, then 0.271 after a second reading, about three times the legal limit of 0.08, according to the city of Pittsburgh crime report.
“He didn’t need to say that he had been drinking — he looked like it and smelled like it,” said Matthew White, a crime prevention and analysis officer at the Squirrel Hill police station.
Police released Hunker and returned his car from the pound.
“This decision was made by the judges,” White said.
Hunker was stopped again Aug. 18, the very next day, when an officer noticed a car with intense rear end damage and broken brake lights driving wildly down North Craig Street. His blood alcohol level was found to be 0.173 initially, then 0.167 upon a second test, according to the crime report.
Once again, Hunker was released and given back his car.
All was then quiet until Aug. 24 when police received a call from Hunker’s house that he was suicidal. When they arrived, Hunker had already driven off in his new BMW, in which he was apprehended driving drunk.
On Aug. 28, a judge added the condition to his bail that banned him from driving.
According to the police, Hunker did have a record of a past DUI charge.
However, “Hunker wasn’t on the police’s radar,” White said.