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YSU Report lists allegations, urges firing

By Joanne Viviano

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Included is a statement from a colleague being investigated on fraud allegations.
YOUNGSTOWN -- An on-campus investigation into a sexual harassment allegation against a Youngstown State University professor recommends the educator be fired with no possibility for rehiring.
Robert Campbell, a tenured assistant professor of human ecology, has been employed by the university since 1979 but has not been teaching since the allegations arose in late November.
He faces an accusation from a female student who said Campbell made unwelcome sexual advances toward her while he was her professor from August 2002 until December 2003, which the report says "had the effect of creating a hostile, intimidating and offensive environment."
Campbell has denied he sexually harassed the senior student, says a letter presented to the university by his lawyer Timothy R. Piatt of Youngstown. Campbell declined an interview request from Jimmy Myers, director of the office of equal opportunity and diversity, who conducted the investigation.
What woman said
The woman said Campbell made advances toward her, such as touching her hand, shoulders or knee or brushing up against her. He also had made several inappropriate comments, telling her he loved her, that he wanted to have sex with her, that they should get married and that they should stay together in a hotel room while at a convention in New York.
The woman said she confronted Campbell more than once, telling him "You're my professor, and I'm your student. ... I don't want to have these kinds of comments anymore" and "I think you're stepping over your lines of ethics and decency. I don't think that's right for a professor to proposition a student."
She said that the advances continued despite her comments and that she suffered stomach problems and was afraid to walk to her car alone at night while on campus.
Piatt's letter says that Campbell denies most of the allegations. He also acknowledges that some comments or actions were misinterpreted or easily explained. For example, Piatt writes, "When guiding and instructing his male and female students, he at times places his hands on their shoulders."
"At no time did Robert Campbell engage in sexual or any other form of harassment against [the student]. Her allegations are wholly unfounded and must be rejected accordingly," Piatt writes.
Other names given
The student gave Myers names of other students who said they also had concerns about Campbell. Myers contacted them, but they either did not show up for interview appointments or did not respond to a request for an interview.
Myers' report, which recommends Campbell be fired with no possibility for rehire, faces review by Dr. Tony Atwater, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and an investigation review committee.
The committee includes several administrators, as well as Jean Hassell, chairwoman of the department of human ecology, and Dr. William Bruce Neil, an associate professor of human ecology.
Neil also is the sole witness in the sexual harassment report and gave Myers a 26-page statement.
Neil is the focus of a separate investigation into whether he defrauded the university. In question is the validity of his master's and doctorate degrees. Neil became involved in the Campbell matter because the student first presented her complaints to him, Myers' report says.
Neil told Myers that Campbell had acted inappropriately and made inappropriate comments regarding many female students, some of whom had complained to Neil, including one who said he had tried to kiss her when she was against a wall.
Campbell's salary for 2003-04 is $63,697. His salary has been supplemented over the years by summer teaching assignments which most recently earned him $18,171 in 2003.
Supervisor evaluations in his personnel file show he has been active in the university community, often volunteering at various events. He also has received high marks for his teaching ability and average marks for research.