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Retired Professor and former Director of Latin American Studies Bruce Ergood poses for a portrait with his Latin American artifacts in the Multicultural Center on Tuesday, October 11. Ergood has traveled around the world to collect these artifacts, which will be on exhibit for Haspanic Heritage month.

Former director of Latin American studies files lawsuit against university

The former director of the Latin American Studies department at Ohio University filed a lawsuit against the university yesterday claiming that items of his were stolen while on display in the Multicultural Center.

Bruce Ergood, 81, decided to put his collection of Latin American memorabilia and artifacts on display in the Multicultural Center in October after a suggestion from graduate student Erica Harding.

Harding brought the items from Ergood’s house to the center Oct. 3 and returned them Oct. 25, according to Ergood’s complaint filed in the Ohio Court of Claims Dec. 5.

“(Harding and I) discussed the location of the exhibit with Winsome Chunnu, Assistant Director (of the Multicultural Center), and decided on an inner room, past the receptionist, to assure the security they promised since many of the some 80+ items are very valuable and some are irreplaceable,” Ergood said in court documents.

While Ergood was unpacking the items Oct. 25, he discovered that a hand-woven red tablecloth, a ceramic ashtray and two pairs of juarachis, or sandals, were missing. Ergood said he will have to travel to Mexico to replace the items.

He is suing the university for $680 to cover the costs of the trip.

“These juarachis are part of my Otomi culture collection, which I’ve used when lecturing on indigenous cultures. It includes many items I collected, as gifts and purchases, in 1954 while living with the Otomi in the Valle de Mezquital,” Ergood said in court documents.

Ergood said he went to Chunnu Nov. 1 and informed her about the missing items. He said Chunnu told him said she would look into it and get back to him but never did.

Ergood originally listed the Muliticultural Center, Chunnu and Harding as defendants on the complaint, but to accord with Ohio law, the defendant was changed to Ohio University today.

Neither the center nor Chunnu could be reached for comment.

The court ordered that OU conduct an investigation into the complaint. OU has yet to issue a response.

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