Professor fired

Sept. 10, 1997

Students' sexual harrassment claims reviewed

By Cindy Szelag

Staff Writer for The Baylor Lariat

Baylor fired a tenured anthropology professor last week after consideration by the tenure committee and President Robert B. Sloan, Jr.

Dr. John W. Fox, anthropology professor at Baylor since 1977 and tenured since 1984, was notified of his termination by letter last week, said Larry Brumley, associate vice president of communications. The termination was effective Friday, Brumley said.

Brumley said Baylor's tenure committee reviewed the facts at a hearing two weeks ago. After the three-day hearing, the committee presented their recommendation to Sloan, who made the final decision.

'Some people may think that President Sloan just decided to terminate Dr. Fox,' Brumley said. 'But it went through the due process as it applies to faculty.'

According to Baylor Personnel Policy 705, due process is as follows:

'A written charge shall be filed against the faculty member with the Faculty Tenure Committee, setting forth the factual basis of the cause for cancellation of tenure... Such written charge shall be filed only by...the chairperson of the department...a majority of the tenured faculty members in the department...the dean of the school or college in which the faculty member charged is employed; the Vice President for Academic Affairs or the President of the University.

'A copy of the written charge shall be sent to the faculty member charged by the chairperson of the Tenure Committee with notice that the accused must file a written answer... in not more than twenty days from receipt of the notice.

'After the receipt of the charge and answer...the Tenure Committee shall review the charge and answer and decide whether there is probable cause to cancel tenure of the accused ...If the Tenure Committee decides a hearing on the charge is warranted, it shall set a date for the hearing and give written notice thereof of both the accuser and the accused. ..

'At the hearing of the person filing the charge must submit substantial evidence to prove the charge to the Tenure Committee. The accused and his/her counsel shall have the right to hear and see such evidence and to challenge same and to present evidence in answer . . .'

'After the hearing the Tenure Committee shall make findings of fact upon the charge and with such findings submit a recommendation. . . findings of fact and recommendation shall be submitted to the President of the University for review and final decision.'

The tenure committee heard arguments from both Fox's side and the Baylor position regarding sexual harassment claims made by students against Fox in early September 1996, Brumley said. Brumley and Madden would not comment on the specifics of the claims.

Dr. Stan Madden, vice president for university marketing, said the important thing for Baylor in any situation like this is to make sure the rights of both the students and the professors involved are protected.

'We always have to balance the rights and relationships we have between faculty members and students,' Madden said.

Madden said the process involved in investigating any claims made against students or staff always includes a hearing of peers, such as the tenure committee which is made up of faculty members.

Dr. Harold W. Osborne, chair of the sociology, social work, and anthropology department, said Fox began teaching classes at the beginning of this semester. Jaclyn Jeffrey, a full-time lecturer in the Department of Oral History and an anthropologist, has taken over his classes while the department searches for replacements, Osborne said.

Osborne would not comment on his involvement in the process of termination.

Neither Brumley nor Madden would comment on the exact reason for Fox's termination or the pending litigation involved, saying Baylor would not disclose personnel information.

According to Baylor Personnel Policy 705, a tenured faculty member may be dismissed for any of the following reasons:

'Failure to perform assigned University duties in a competent manner, Repeated failure to comply with published University policies or regulations or with specific orders of University officials, Gross abuse of trust in faculty-student relationship, Misconduct involving moral turpitude, conduct constituting a felony under state or federal law, intemperance in the use of alcoholic beverages or illicit drugs, or other conduct clearly inconsistent with the standard of conduct generally expected of a teacher in a university sponsored by Southern Baptists.'

Repeated phone calls to Fox and his attorney, LaNelle McNamara, Monday and Tuesday were not returned.

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