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YSU Professor's removal was not proper, union papers say



Published: Sat, April 10, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman who said she was harassed is no longer a YSU student.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The faculty union at Youngstown State University has accused administrators of failing to act fairly and expeditiously during an investigation into a complaint that an associate professor sexually harassed a student.

In pre-grievance and grievance documents, the union also argues that administrators improperly removed Robert Campbell from his teaching duties at the end of the fall term and again for the current spring term.

In a report dated March 26, Jimmy Myers, director of equal opportunity and diversity, recommends the firing of Campbell, an associate professor of human ecology, based on his investigation into a complaint by one female student.

In a pre-grievance notice filed this week, the union alleges that administrators "conducted an unauthorized and secret investigation" into the student's complaint instead of directly turning it over to the director of equal opportunity as required by union agreement.

The union also alleges that administrators later "impeded and undermined the fair and expeditious investigation of the allegations" by Myers.

The complaint names Hugh Chatman, director of human resources; John Habat, vice president for administration; John Yemma, dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services; Jean Hassell, chairwoman of the department of human ecology; and Thomas Maraffa, special assistant to the president/director of faculty relations.

Another document

A separate pre-grievance document filed this week also charges Myers with failing to investigate the allegations "in a fair and expeditious manner."

Though administrators have not yet responded to the pre-grievance allegations, they deny charges raised in grievance complaints, dating back to November.

Among them is that administrators acted in violation of university policy by removing Campbell from the classroom before an investigation had been completed.

Yemma answered the complaint by writing that Campbell was not removed from class as a disciplinary action, but that the removal was a "reassignment to alternative duties with pay."

"[It] was an effort to continue to diffuse a very tense situation in which several females voiced discomfort at being in a classroom with a male professor who had allegedly exhibited inappropriate behavior," Yemma writes, in responding to the spring term reassignment.

"Certain aspects of the students' allegations have been subsequently corroborated by Mr. Campbell's faculty peers in the department."

The woman making the complaint was no longer a student during the spring term.

Besides the student's allegation, Myers' report relies on a statement from faculty peer William Bruce Neil.

Credentials probed

Neil, the sole witness in the report, is also under investigation by the university. A committee is investigating the validity of his master's and doctoral degrees, which were obtained from a now-defunct Louisiana correspondence school.

In the Campbell matter, another sticking point is a union contention that administrators violated university policy by failing to attempt an informal resolution of the concern before initiating a formal investigation; Yemma's response says policy recommends such an attempt but does not require it and that Myers did not deem an informal resolution viable after speaking to the student making the complaint.

Among other union concerns is that Myers investigated the matter in the absence of a formal complaint from the student. A formal complaint was filed Jan. 12. The union argues that the woman was "no longer a member of the university community" and was not eligible to sign a complaint after she left YSU.

The group further alleges that Myers failed to provide union officers with various documents related to the investigation.




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