The Ohio University Faculty Senate committee tasked with reconsidering its conclusions about whether to recommend upholding the tenure of journalism professor Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, who was found by the university Title IX office to have sexually harassed at least two students, submitted its report to the Board of Trustees on Friday, days after deadline.
Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said in a phone call that she corresponded on Friday with Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Robin Muhammad who said the hearing committee, which she presides over, had officially submitted the report.
After the Board of Trustees took umbrage with the Faculty Senate Hearing Committee’s initial conclusions last month, the group was ordered as part of a unanimously approved resolution to file a reconsideration of its findings regarding Kalyango’s tenure by March 30 to be reviewed at the Trustees’ upcoming April 8-9 meeting.
It’s not clear why the document was submitted three days late. Leatherwood said it's not the university's business to comment on the procedural matter. The Board of Trustees will likely review the document in executive session on April 8, then share its verdict the following day during the main meeting, she said.
Muhammad, who acknowledged on March 29 she and the Trustees were aware of the March 30 deadline, didn’t return numerous requests for comment on the report throughout the week.
She said in an email on Monday, April 5 that the committee notified the Board of Trustees that the document would arrive late and that the Trustees didn't object.
"It's been a particularly hectic semester," she said.
Muhammad didn't respond to a follow-up message asking when the group notified the Trustees about the delay and why exactly the group needed an extension.
The Board of Trustees didn't return numerous requests for comment about the document not arriving on time. Kalyango and his attorney also didn't return phone calls.
Two of the committee’s six members, Drs. Yehong Shao-Lucas and Vladimir Marchenkov, responded to an email seeking comment on the document’s tardiness, only saying to direct all inquires on the matter to Muhammad. The other four members, Drs. Mark Franz, Sheryl House, Charles Lowery and Lauren McMills, didn’t respond.
The Athens NEWS has since filed a public records request with the OU Office of Legal Affairs in an attempt to obtain a copy of the document.
Serving as the final arbiter in determining the fate of Kalyango’s tenure, the Board of Trustees at an emergency meeting earlier in the month unanimously objected to the Faculty Senate committee’s original report, which recommended that he shouldn’t lose tenure and immediately be reinstated as a full professor after not being ensured adequate due process by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the Scripps College of Communication.
The Board of Trustees’ concerns with the original report included the standard of evidence used, the committee’s failure to permit the university’s representative to cross-examine Kalyango, and the committee’s failure to explicitly outline the grounds on which its findings were made.
The Faculty Senate hearing committee was tasked in December with reviewing Kalyango’s appeal of tenure revocation through evidence and testimonies from both women who alleged the professor harassed them and from faculty members. After the document was made public, Faculty Senate voted to withdraw the report from the Board of Trustees’ consideration, arguing it was improperly conceived and violated university policy. Many in Senate at the time were also concerned with the evidentiary standard the committee used.
According to the faculty handbook, the Board of Trustees are only required to consider the final document sent by Faculty Senate when determining tenure revocation of a faculty member, but the body pledged to review all relevant evidence in the yearslong case.
The Faculty Senate committee’s members, Franz, House, Lowery, McMills, Marchenkov and Shao-Lucas, voted 5-1 in favor of Kalyango’s appeal. Muhammad, as Faculty Senate chair, would have only cast a vote in the event of a stalemate.
Kalyango was suspended in 2018 by the university in consultation with the Scripps college after an investigation by the Title IX office found that he sexually harassed a graduate student. The professor is still employed by the university to conduct research, but doesn’t have contact with students in the role.