Ohio University alumnus and leading NBC news anchor Matt Lauer was fired Wednesday morning after allegations of sexual harassment, sending shockwaves through his alma mater.
According to a statement from NBC News, the company received a complaint from a colleague Monday night alleging Lauer’s “inappropriate sexual behavior” in the workplace. His termination was announced Wednesday during the morning segment of Today, which he has co-anchored since 1997.
“We are learning the news about allegations against alumnus Matt Lauer with the rest of the world today,” OU Spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said. “These are serious allegations, and we are saddened and disappointed by the reports.”
In a statement, the Scripps College of Communication said it was disappointed to hear of Lauer’s alleged misconduct.
“We believe all people deserve to work in a safe, positive and nurturing environment, and that any incidence of sexual misconduct should be handled with the utmost respect and care,” the statement reads.
More than 60 OU students have interned with Today as part of an exclusive internship program, which began in 2000. Leatherwood said Lauer was “instrumental” in the development of the program.
In January, four more OU students will travel to New York to intern with Today for Spring Semester.
Lauer dropped out of OU in spring 1979 to become a producer for WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia. He later received his degree in communication from the Scripps College of Communication at the age of 39.
Between 2003 and 2017, Lauer donated $166,000 to the Ohio University Foundation.
His termination is the latest in a series of complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace — a trend that has led to the firing of several prominent politicians, journalists and entertainers.
Within the past month, MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin and CBS This Morning co-host and, host of his self-titled show that aired on PBS, Charlie Rose have all been fired from their respective positions after allegations of sexual misconduct.
According to the statement from the Scripps College of Communication, the college believes the news of Lauer’s firing will serve as an opportunity for “continued dialogue” about ethical values both within and outside the workplace.
“We will sustain our efforts in encouraging a culture of respect and inclusiveness among our students and, ultimately, in our field.” the statement reads.
E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Director Bob Stewart hopes to use Lauer’s termination as an opportunity to shed light on the issue of sexual harassment in newsrooms. Starting in Spring Semester, Stewart plans to meet with a special task force, composed of campus media leaders, to advise the journalism school on protecting students during internships.
“I realized that we really need to focus on making sure our students, when they’re interning, are protected,” Stewart said. “Because there are a lot of mechanisms that students (have) on campus for how to get support. But when students are away from campus, there aren't as many mechanisms to support them.”
The task force will be co-led by Alex Stuckey, a Scripps alumna and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter whose tweet about experiencing sexual harassment during an internship gave Stewart the idea to create the group.
“It’s a sad day to be a Bobcat,” Stewart said. “But let’s make something as positive out of this as we can.”
Bailey Gallion contributed to this report.