Dean Scott Titsworth of Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and the recently retired director of The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Robert Stewart, are both under investigation by the university’s Title IX office after a disgraced subordinate filed a complaint against them.
Yusuf Kalyango, a journalism professor who was suspended by the university in 2018 after a Title IX investigation found that he sexually harassed a graduate student and who is in the process of losing his tenure, filed complaints against both men with OU’s Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) office between April and May 2020, prompting the investigation, a university spokesperson confirmed.
The specifics of Kalyango’s ECRC complaint against Stewart and Titsworth aren’t clear. The spokesperson said in an email that the university was unable to provide additional details about the complaint.
Stewart declined to comment on the matter. Titsworth did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kalyango, a Black man, alleged in a lawsuit filed against the university in federal court last week that both men treated him unfairly and retaliated against him because of his race during the administrative de-tenuring process, which is still ongoing. According to the lawsuit, filed in The Southern District of Ohio, ECRC launched an inquiry into Kalyango’s complaint against Stewart, his direct supervisor, in April 2020 and another in May into Titsworth, who authorized his suspension. ECRC initiated a full investigation into both men in June, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, submitted by Canton attorney Gergory A. Buck on Kalyango’s behalf, alleges that both Stewart and Titsworth violated the OU faculty handbook by “banishing and/or enacting such severe disciplinary suspension sanctions” against Kalyango before a University Professional Ethics Committee (UPEC) could review the sexual misconduct charges brought against him that were at the time previously substantiated through a preponderance of evidence by the Title IX office.
The lawsuit described the Title IX investigation into Kalyango as “embarrassingly inept.” According to the Ohio University Faculty Handbook’s procedures for complaints involving sexual misconduct by faculty, during an investigation of a sexual misconduct claim, the ECRC investigator can “recommend to the Provost that interim measures be put in place to prevent the possibility of continuation or recurrence of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, or to preserve the integrity of the investigation process.”
In addition, the Provost of the college with which the employee is associated may consult the chair of the department, as well as the dean of the college or school, when making these types of determinations. “Depending on the severity of the accusations, the Provost may decide to put the faculty member on administrative leave until resolution of the allegations,” the handbook states.
The UPEC unanimously agreed in November 2018 that the evidence substantiated by the Title IX investigation against Kalyango warranted adequate cause to initiate loss of tenure proceedings for him.
According to the lawsuit, Kalyango also reportedly complained to Stewart in 2017 and 2016 that Michael Sweeney, a journalism professor and the former chair of the graduate admissions committee, allegedly favored “non-minority American students” in the graduate admissions process.
Sweeney allegedly denied several prospective graduate students from the Middle-East that Kalyango reportedly personally recruited, the lawsuit said.
Stewart allegedly “ignored” Kalyango’s complaint about Sweeney, but Stewart later reportedly notified Sweeney that Kalyango was advocating for a more diverse graduate program, according to the suit. The lawsuit also said that Titsworth “socially and emotionally” harmed Kalyango by allegedly prematurely suspending and forbidding him and his family from stepping foot on campus because his son’s options for summer camp and other recreational activities were “prohibitively limited.” Kalyango argued that those punitive actions were taken against him because he is black.
Kalyango additionally alleged in the lawsuit that Stewart “intentionally and willfully blocked or removed” him from email lists, which he argued was an alleged slight against him on the basis of race, the lawsuit said.
“We have received and are reviewing the litigation. With respect to the specific allegations contained in the lawsuit, Ohio University will reserve comment until it files its formal response in court,” a university spokesperson said of the lawsuit.
Kalyango is still employed by the university to conduct research, but he no longer has contact with students in that role, the university previously said.
A spokesperson, however, previously declined to comment on the nature of Kalyango’s research or where specifically he is conducting it.