Monday, August 18, 2008

Two University of Missouri - Kansas City professors resign rather than face stripping of tenure and firing

Psychology professors S. Carlos Poston II and C. Keith Haddock, University of Missouri-Kansas City professors accused of sexual harassment, resigned last week Monday because they ran out of money to defend themselves from an internal procedure which would have led to revocation of tenure and dismissal from the university.

Both denied sexually harassing a former graduate student and a faculty member, creating a hostile environment in the psychology lab they oversaw. Poston said, “I did not resign because I was guilty of anything. I resigned because I was told that was the only way to get a letter that says I didn’t do it.”

Linda Garavalia, a victim and associate professor of psychology at UMKC, was surprised by the resignations, but stated that giving up tenure is a sign of guilt.

“I thought they would fight it out. If you weren’t guilty, then why not go through with it. If there was no evidence against them, then what would it cost? What would they have to defend against? I would never give up my tenure if I were innocent.”

The other woman, Megan Pinkston-Camp, was not available for comment. She was a graduate student when the suit was filed and now is a clinical psychologist doing post-doctoral work at Brown University.

The university settled the $1.1 million lawsuit in June 2007. The suit, filed a year earlier, claimed that women were groped and fondled and subjected to explicit sexual conversations and that the two male professors had physically threatened people in the lab.

Garavalia and Pinkston-Camp had complained to the their department chairman in 2004 and later to the UMKC affirmative action office, which led to an order for the professors to implement a risk management plan. Later, the professors were granted tenure and given raises — from $76,707 to $101,707 for Poston and from $75,876 to $93,376 for Haddock.

Haddock tried to file two record requests to gain access to the report, but “I wanted the truth to come out. I thought it would exonerate me. But we still haven’t seen it, and now I don’t think we ever will.”

Karen R. Glickstein, lawyers for both accused, received a letter from university lawyers suggesting that resignation would lead to avoidance of internal discipline and the chance to receive the draft of the findings. That draft came in the form of a letter by Grace Hernandez, former affirmative director, currently chief of staff in UMKC.

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