“What follows is my official response to my termination from DSU on March 2, 2018. Feel free to share and accurately cite as you will.
In November of 2014, my wife and I became inextricably involved in the events surrounding the termination of Varlo Davenport. We did not seek this involvement, but through circumstance, we found ourselves at the very center of the controversy due to the fact that my wife was a student in the class wherein an assault allegedly occurred (Mr. Davenport was fully acquitted of all charges in both a faculty review hearing and in civil court), and due to the fact that I had been a colleague and a regular collaborator with Mr. Davenport for the preceding 11 years, and knew his work and conduct better than anyone.
In point of fact, my wife and I were first hand factual witnesses regarding Mr Davenport’s overall character, his alleged behavior in the class mentioned, and of his work in general at DSU. Given our uniquely indisputable and undeniable knowledge of Mr. Davenport’s complete and utter innocence, and of the subsequent actions taken against him despite said innocence, our integrity and common decency demanded that we speak the truth of these matters to any and all who asked, which we have done for the past three years informally as well as in the hearing and civil trial already mentioned. My wife provided the most detailed recollection of the events in question which was key testimony in the acquittal of Varlo Davenport in both the faculty hearing and in the civil trial.
Subsequently, Varlo Davenport has filed a law suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah in which he has claimed that various persons who are in the university administration at high levels and on the Board of Trustees of the University have conspired to deprive him of his civil rights in violation of Title 42, Section 1983, of the United States Code commonly known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871.
At the beginning of spring semester 2018, DSU email accounts were searched, and faculty were investigated and subsequently interrogated by a recently hired assistant university counsel, and my termination letter was the result.
As you read my “Notice of Dismissal and Termination of Appointment”, keep the following 3 points in mind:
1 – Even if taken at face value, none of the accusations constitute grounds for termination according to DSU’s own policy:
“4.1 Dismissal for cause may be imposed on a faculty member in the following circumstances:
4.1.1 Professional incompetence …
4.1.2 Unwillingness or refusal to meet his/her responsibilities to the University.
4.1.3 Serious misconduct or unethical behavior.
4.1.4 Serious violation of University rules and regulations.” (DSU Policy 4.1)
Although the “Notice of Dismissal and Termination of Appointment” document lists 3 of the 4 causes, their supporting evidence is unrelated to any of the 3 causes listed.
As noted by the Inside Higher Ed article of March 3, 2018, accusations such as these are not considered grounds for termination :
“…tenured faculty terminations remain rare and typically follow reports of serious misconduct…
Even in scare quotes, ‘crimes’ is probably too strong a word for the main claims against Glenn Webb, chair of music, and Ken Peterson, director of vocal activities: not liking a colleague and then discussing the vote on that colleague’s tenure bid.
…even the most discreet colleagues would probably question whether telling a family member about a tenure vote is a meaningful breach of privacy — let alone a terminable offense.
The American Association of University Professors doesn’t define what is and is not a fireable offense and maintains that faculty peers should make such decisions. It opposes the use of collegiality in personnel decisions, on the grounds that it’s a murky concept that can be used to punish professors for political reasons.”
In fact, these accusations do not even justify omitting the preliminary disciplinary process which is only allowed under extreme circumstances:
“6.1 An employee may be recommended for dismissal according to the above procedure or for serious misconduct, without the above preceding Fist and Second Level Corrective Discussions, including, but not limited to the following job-related reasons…:
6.1.1 Fraud, including falsification on employment application.
6.1.2 Misuse of University property or funds.
6.1.3 Violation of statutory requirements of institutional regulations and policies, such as regulations related to discrimination or harassment.
6.1.4 Conviction of a crime by a court of competent jurisdiction.
6.1.5 Lewd, threatening, abusive or violent treatment of the public, students, or other employees.” (DSU Policy 6.1)
2 – Every one of the accusations are based entirely on hearsay of supposed witnesses who remain unknown to me. Why? That I do not know my accusers is also contrary to policy:
“The Procedures for dismissal for case of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member shall comply with minimal due process requirements as noted in 3.8.1-3.8.4 below. Institutional polices shall provide procedures of dismissal for cause which may be more but not less protective of due process rights than those set forth below…
188.8.131.52. Notice of the names of those persons making the charges and the nature of the factual
evidence;” (Utah System of Higher Education policy 4.3.8)
“Any such [dismissal] notice shall contain a statement of the cause(s) of the proposed dismissal with supporting detail, including the name(s) of the person or persons making the charge(s) …” (DSU policy 4.2.4)
3 – It’s not slander if it’s true.