A professor in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism – who directs two major U.S. Department of State-sponsored programs – has been suspended after a university Title IX investigation found he had sexually harassed a graduate student.
OU’s Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance released a report of an investigation last Friday into Yusuf Kalyango, Jr., a journalism professor and director of the Institute for International Journalism at the Scripps School.
That investigative report – obtained by The NEWS – found, through a preponderance of evidence standard, that Kalyango had violated three OU policy sections by sexually harassing a female graduate student working for programs under Kalyango by quid pro quo; sexually harassing that student by hostile work environment; and harassing her based on her sex.
Kalyango said in a brief emailed comment to The NEWS Wednesday that he would likely send out a statement Thursday about the report. He did deny the student's allegations in his responses noted in the ECRC report, however.
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.
OU spokesperson Carly Leatherwood confirmed Tuesday that the university, in consultation with Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth, had suspended “a professor” in the journalism school’s teaching duties after the ECRC investigation.
Kalyango’s case now will be sent to the university’s provost and chair of Faculty Senate, who will convene a review committee of the University Professional Ethics Committee (which recently was established after an OU Faculty Senate initiative to change how the university considers faculty discipline). The six-member faculty committee will review the ECRC findings and other documentation, and provide a recommendation to OU’s Provost for discipline for Kalyango after a 45-day review period, according to OU policy.
THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST Kalyango refer to a period of time in spring and summer 2017 during which, the student reported in her ECRC complaint, Kalyango made several “uncomfortable advances” toward her in person and via text message, complimenting her frequently, including her appearance (at one point allegedly saying she looked “very beautiful”), and offering to take her out to dinner, while also at one point asking her for a picture of herself that he could share with his sons.
These alleged incidences, according to the ECRC memorandum of findings report written by ECRC civil-rights investigator G. Antonio Anaya, preceded a trip to the East African nation of Rwanda to which Kalyango invited her, following conclusion of the YALI program in South Africa, where – Kalyango revealed in an itinerary provided to the graduate student just days before the two left for the YAL program – he had reserved a room at a resort hotel at Lake Kivu in Rwanda. He allegedly told the student it was the only room “available,” and that they would have to share the room.
The student reported, as related in the ECRC report, that she “immediately rejected” that offer, and ended up staying in the room by herself, with Kalyango staying in a different city. Kalyango in the report denied that he had ever asked her to share the room with him, although ECRC investigator Anaya noted that he had a copy of the emailed reservation request from Kalyango, showed that he had sought the reservation “for me” for a room for “two people,” booked for two days in late June 2017.
“Complainant stated that because this was a university trip, she did not believe cohabitating was appropriate,” Anaya reported, referencing a meeting between Kalyango and the student in late May, just two days before the two left for the YALI trip. “Respondent then stated that this was not part of a university trip.”
According to the student’s allegations in Anaya’s ECRC report, Kalyango’s behavior toward the student became “cold” after she rejected the offer to stay with him. Specifically, she reported that 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, 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.
When the student approached OU’s Human Resources Office with Kalyango’s complaints about her tabulation of the YALI expense reports, meanwhile, the student reported that Kalyango after the trip had failed to meet with her on at least two occasions to go over the reports. Kalyango responded to that email, the ECRC’s Anaya reported, saying “I get it, that it was my fault… all of it. Many apologies. SUSI should be better because those same mistakes will not happen this time around.” Five days after that exchange, the student stepped down from her position with the SUSI program because she “no longer felt safe working with (Kalyango).”
THE ECRC REPORT noted that the “preponderance of evidence” shows that Kalyango paid for many of the student’s expenses for the Rwanda trip, and that Kalyango had not paid for such expenses for “similarly situated students or others” in the past. The student also provided witnesses and phone records to back up her claim that she was uncomfortable with the room reservation issue – and one witness, an OU professor, said that they had asked the student to report the situation to the university.
Investigator Anaya reported that when asked to explain the reservation in an interview, Kalyango offered a “number of inconsistent and contradictory” explanations.
According to the report, the student also provided phone records of her texting Kalyango earlier in 2017, saying she was excited for “extra work in SA (South Africa)” in response to flight reservations to Rwanda. Kalyango responded, “But it is not South Africa. It’s actually Rwanda. I want to show you something. I’m thinking of something outside of work,” he reportedly said. “Work is only in South Africa. It’s for you… sort of… yes, something you are interested in.”
The ECRC report concluded by noting that the matter has been submitted to Kalyango’s department chair and dean of the college for consideration of “possible disciplinary action.” If he remains in his position, the report recommended Kalyango go through “additional training” approved by ECRC, and should be engaged in “conversation regarding… professional workplace behavior.”