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Deborah Shaffer, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer for the Board of Trustees and President Duane Nellis at a 2019 trustees meeting.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees on Monday voted unanimously to approve a resolution objecting to the Faculty Senate committee report that recommended upholding the tenure of journalism professor Yusuf Kalyango, who was found by the university Title IX office to have sexually harassed at least two students.

The Board of Trustees, as the final arbiter in determining the fate of the professor’s tenure, made the decision following a more than four-hour long executive session where members reviewed the report and transcripts from the Faculty Senate committee.

Kalyango, who has been at the center of several university investigations and lawsuits in recent years related to sexual misconduct allegations, and his attorney also appeared during the executive session in accordance with the faculty handbook, according to Board of Trustees Chair Janelle Coleman.

The committee report, which was uncovered by The Athens NEWS and prompted city-wide outrage over its content, recommended to the Board of Trustees that Kalyango 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 special committee report also called into question the efficacy of the two Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (Title IX) investigations that outlined in great detail the substantiation of allegations from two former students, Tess Herman and Lindsay Boyle, that Kalyango sexually harassed them.

In the aftermath of the first Title IX investigation, a university ethics committee and former Provost and Executive Vice President Chaden Djalali recommended that Kalyango should lose tenure and be fired. Another ethics committee later upheld the second Title IX investigation.

“After review of the full record, The Board of Trustees has serious questions regarding the committee’s report,” the resolution said.

The body’s concerns with the 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.

Neither Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Robin Muhammad nor Kalyango replied to a request for comment.

The Board of Trustees subsequently requested that the committee act on the body’s objections to the report and submit a reconsideration of its findings within the next 21 days so that it can be reviewed at the Trustees’ April meeting.

All members of the body voted in favor of the resolution.

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 years long case, including the report in question.

The Faculty Senate committee’s members, Muhammad and Drs. Mark Franz, Sheryl House, Charles Lowery, Lauren McMills, Vladimir Marchenkov and Yehong Shao-Lucas, voted 5-1 in favor of Kalyango’s appeal.

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 Herman.

The professor is still employed by the university to conduct research, but doesn’t have contact with students in the role.

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