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Ohio University's Faculty Senate gathers in Walter Hall to discuss concerns on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. 

Faculty Senate: Concerns expressed about Deb Shaffer; results from Board of Trustees meeting discussed

Correction appended.

Ohio University Faculty Senate received updates from OU President Duane Nellis regarding recent media coverage about Deb Shaffer, senior vice president for Finance and Administration, and the status of the Board of Trustees’ decision regarding Yusuf Kalyango. 

When taking questions following Nellis’ updates, some faculty members expressed their concerns. 

“The reports that you challenge local news media on their professional ethics, in an investigation of a public official at a public university, it concerns me,” Bill Reader, senator from the Scripps College of Communication, said. “I'm not entirely sure that it is newsworthy where people are working during the pandemic when we're all working from home anyway. I think it is newsworthy, however, when some of the highest paid officials at a public university in Ohio may be removing themselves from the state of Ohio and, as a result, removing their tax dollars from the state of Ohio.”

Nellis pointed out he is the only OU employee who is required to live in Athens County by contract and said it is not his job to keep track of his employees’ personal lives. Further, he said Shaffer was always available when needed, including on weekends. 

“If they were asking her about budget questions or about professional decisions that she's made, that's a different dynamic, but when they start making calls to some of the places they were making calls to,” Nellis said, “It just borders on … harassing her and undermining her, and I just think that was totally inappropriate. That's my opinion.”

Following this discussion, Sarah Webb, senator from the College of Health Sciences and Professions, asked Nellis when he anticipated the results of Monday’s Board of Trustees special meeting concerning Yusuf Kalyango to be available. Webb also inquired if the Board had special training to deal with cases regarding sexual assault and harassment.

Nellis said results should be out very soon, as they met during the same time period as Faculty Senate that evening. He went on to say he does not know if the Board members received any sort of training.

Senate Chair Robin Muhammad went on to clarify certain procedures followed during the special committee meeting regarding Kalyango’s tenure.

Muhammad shared a document outlining these procedures with Senate. The points included were: the burden of proof during the hearing rests on the university; the hearing shall be in closed session unless requested to be open by the faculty member; the faculty member may testify on their behalf, but other information may also be brought forward; and the committee will close for deliberations. 

When Muhammed finished presenting these outlines, Valerie Young, an alternate from the College of Engineering, brought up concerns that the procedures may be outdated, as they have not been updated in 20 years. 

Muhammed said changing the procedures in the middle of deliberation is not the best option right now. 


Correction appended: A previous version of this article contained the incorrect spelling of Deb Shaffer’s name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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