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OU President Duane Nellis speaks at the beginning of the eighth annual Interfaith Peace Walk on Sept. 11, 2018. (FILE)

OU president denies former LGBT Center director’s grievance

Ohio University President Duane Nellis denied the grievances of former LGBT Center Director delfin bautista on Tuesday. 

bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and does not capitalize their name, submitted a grievance addressing the non-renewal of their contract to Nellis on Feb. 4. Nellis said university policy was not violated, and bautista was notified of their non-renewal in a timely fashion. On Jan. 8, bautista was placed on paid administrative leave for the remainder of their contract.

Nellis said his commitment to diversity is a top mission for OU. His first strategic pathway as president is to continue the university’s efforts to be a national leader in diversity and inclusion. 

In his inaugural address, Nellis announced the creation of a position for a vice president for Diversity and Inclusion that would elevate the role of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at OU. Nellis said the university selected a qualified candidate, Gigi Secuban, as the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion. 

“I have confidence in the (vice president), and I believe she must have the discretion to make changes in order to realize our common goal of improving the (university’s) commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Nellis said in the email. “Unfortunately, as in your case, changes sometimes involve personnel decisions.”

The decision to not renew bautista’s contract was based on the needs of the university, Nellis said, and he said those decisions are never easy and sometimes controversial. 

bautista filed a grievance Jan. 21 expressing concerns regarding Secuban and her assistant, Amanda Graham, as well as concerns over the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Secuban denied the grievance Jan. 25 and said she was professional during bautista’s removal and that bautista undermined her leadership.

An internal audit, acquired by The Post via a public records request, found that bautista spent thousands of dollars in violation of university policy, making personal purchases and buying unnecessary staff meals. bautista later disputed the findings of that audit and said they were not notified of the audit results and only received a copy of the report when The Post published it. 

“I appreciate the university’s efforts to ensure appropriate use and allocation of resources,” bautista said in an email to Chief Finance and Administrative Officer Tina Payne at the time. “At the same time, it is distressing that I was never given the opportunity to do better as questions or concerns were not raised during my tenure as director.”

bautista’s grievance to Nellis said they believed they were not treated as they think they should have been. Nellis said bautista’s grievance “merely critiques” their personal disagreements with Secuban and wrongly suggests improper motives from Secuban. 

Their grievance does not identify any flaw with how bautista’s removal was handled.

“Initially, I want to thank you, sincerely, for your contributions to both the University and the community,” Nellis said in the email. “I believe you have done and will continue to do meaningful things; I very much admire your passion.”


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