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Professor Yusuf Kalyango, Jr. Photo from the OU E.W. Scripps School of Journalism webpage.

An Ohio University professional ethics committee issued a finding Friday that it has “adequate cause” to recommend the university start a “loss of tenure” procedure against a journalism professor accused of sexual harassment. This means he could lose his job, depending on the outcome of the rest of the process.

The six-person University Professional Ethics Committee (or UPEC, composed of university professors) unanimously agreed on that recommendation in its decision issued Friday. The professor, Yusuf Kalyango Jr., was found through a university Title IX investigation report issued earlier this year to have sexually harassed a graduate student who worked in programs led by Kalyango in 2017.

According to the OU Faculty Handbook, the “loss of tenure” finding is the most serious of four possible disciplinary actions the UPEC group could recommend. OU’s provost now has 30 days to make a decision on discipline for Kalyango; the provost’s decision then will be relayed to OU’s president, who will make the final determination on discipline (Kalyango can appeal the decision).

The OU Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (Title IX office) investigation found that Kalyango violated the university’s policy in three areas: Engaging in sexual harassment by quid pro quo; creating a hostile work environment; and harassing the student based on her sex.

Kalyango’s lawyer, John Marshall of Columbus employment law firm Marshall & Forman, previously has stated that his client denies the student’s accusations. Marshall did not respond to a request for comment sent Friday.

“Professor Kalyango denies the accusations made against him and looks forward to clearing his name in the university process, which is his first opportunity to present evidence and show that the accusations are not true,” Marshall previously wrote.

The UPEC group – chaired by Shelley Delaney, professor of theater – met for roughly seven hours on three separate occasions to consider the charges against Kalyango. The group reviewed the ECRC’s investigation and findings (which included looking at all the evidence the ECRC looked at, including testimony from 16 witnesses), and conducted interviews with Kalyango and the student.

The UPEC group agreed with “all of the ECRC findings,” and argued that Kalyango engaged in “grooming behaviors” toward the student, on top of of a “pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior,” according to a copy of the UPEC group’s decision that was provided to The NEWS by a source close to the university.

The group in that report cited “the respondent’s (Kalyango’s) lack of acknowledgement of the power dynamic inherent in his position of authority,” the UPEC report reads. “The respondent is in a position of power, while the complainant is not. This power appeared to be used to intimidate and control the complainant.”

The UPEC report also cited a “recurring discrepancy” between the documented evidence and the answers given by Kalyango.

The graduate student worked as the program assistant for the 2017 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a U.S. Department of State grant-funded program that Kalyango directed at the time. The student held a similar position with the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) program, another State Department-sponsored program that Kalyango directed at the time, but she resigned from that position after the alleged sexual harassment and retaliation from Kalyango.

WOUB Public Media reported Friday that it had received public records from the university detailing that the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs recently conducted a “site visit” at the university “as a result of the recent happenings concerning” Kalyango, which included a review of the program’s accounting and interviews with witnesses.

According to the student’s allegations in the university’s ECRC report, Kalyango’s behavior toward the student became “cold” after she rejected an offer to stay with him in a room at a resort hotel in Rwanda after the conclusion of the 2017 summer YALI trip. Specifically, she reported that after that incident, Kalyango severely criticized her for her work recording YALI program participants’ evaluations, and for her tabulation of receipts from the program.

When reviewing the evaluations, investigator Anaya noted a total of nine instances in which Kalyango allegedly altered the content of the actual evaluation forms submitted by the participants, in order to either “downplay a criticism of the YALI program, increase the criticism of (the student), increase the praise of (Kalyango) or the program as a whole, or, in the most egregious case, absolutely contradicted a scathing criticism of Witness M (another program staffer).”

Asked to respond to those issues in response to the findings, Kalyango asserted that the forms were “intentionally falsified” by the student. However, according to the report, the investigator failed to find any evidence that she had done so, noting that the student’s compilation of the evaluations “precisely matches” the evaluation forms as submitted by the YALI program participants.

This complaint is in addition to the student’s other concerns with Kalyango; the ECRC report also found the student’s claims that Kalyango made several “uncomfortable advances” toward her to be credible.

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