Wright State University

The Guardian

Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

Kristin Baughman, News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The first presidential candidate who visited the Wright State University campus is facing speculation after making statements of the firing of a University of Wisconsin-Platteville faculty member.

Sabina Burton, associate professor of criminal justice, assisted a student who felt sexually harassed by another professor. Burton claims the administration robbed her of due process rights.

Four years later, Burton faces the threat of losing her teaching position.

“I hope my story with you will reach people who are willing and able to help me,” Burton told Wisconsin Watchdog. “I want to do the right thing, but it is hard to know that I probably will lose my job over this. I hope I can get support so I can fight termination. What I am doing is protected activity and I shouldn’t have to fear termination.”

The university’s faculty grievance committee found Burton’s actions appropriate, but Burton documented instances of intimidation and retaliation from the committee.

When Burton complained to the chairman of the Criminal Justice Department and the dean of the school’s College of Liberal Arts and Education, she was told she wasn’t acting like a “team player.” Burton was told that “women do not belong in the criminal justice field.”

Burton lost her original civil lawsuit in March of 2016, the judges concluded Burton’s Title IX claim failed because Burton “failed to adduce evidence of a materially adverse action.”

Burton appealed to the Seventh Circuit U.S Court of Appeals, arguing the judge “failed to consider the entirety of the evidence in support of Burton’s claim,” instead focusing on a few, select events. The case is pending.

Burton’s story began on Oct. 10, 2012, when UW-Platteville student Alexandra Zupec was handed a note from criminal justice professor Lorne Gibson, with his number, asking Zupec to call him.

Unsure of how to proceed, Zupec went to Burton, a professor Zupec trusted. Burton promised to assist the student, and apologized on behalf of the department that the incident had occurred.

Burton proceeded to email the then-Dean of Liberal Arts and Education, Elizabeth Throop, asking if should report inappropriate faculty conduct toward a student to the Criminal Justice Department chair at the time, or to Student Affairs, according to communications obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog.

The administration claimed Gibson’s note was a “secret experiment on social norms.”

Gibson had not sought or had approval been granted for the “experiment,” but the Criminal Justice Department chair Thomas Caywood told administration he had approved it himself.

These experiments are not used in the Criminal Justice Department at the UW-Platteville.

“If he passed a note with that message and a phone number without explaining, ahead of time, what he was doing, and he did it, in addition, in such a way as to create an atmosphere of potential sexual harassment, this is a profoundly serious issue,” the administrator wrote.

Zupec shared her thoughts of the situation.

“I thought he was being a complete creep,” she said to Wisconsin Watchdog. “That was his first semester there. He was completely new. I didn’t know this man from anywhere. I was not a heavy participant in class. I kept to myself. When I got this I thought, ‘This is the stuff you see in TV shows.’ The rest of the class saw that I was shaking and really nervous.”

The lawsuit states Gibson had passed a similar note to another female student, who was not identified.

Despite the grievance committee’s findings, Gibson was not reprimanded for his behavior.

Burton claims that for the rest of the semester, Caywood “took out his frustrations” over the incident on Burton.

Shields issued a complaint against Burton, threatening to terminate the professor’s position. That complaint, Burton said, is based on allegations without any documentation or other proof.

Burton has been teaching at the UW-Platteville for 15 years. Burton earned a bachelor’s degree in law and a master’s degree in political science in Munich, Germany. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in social ecology from the University of California-Irvine.

Prior to coming to UW-Platteville, Burton taught a variety of criminology, criminal justice and law courses at two major universities in southern California.

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    President Schrader excited to welcome students back to campus

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    What you need to know about college’s most common STI

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    Office of Student Activities to reorganize

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    WSU Swimming and Diving program reaches $85,000 Goal

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    Swimming and diving team community band together to save program

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    An interview with Board of Trustees Chair Doug Fecher

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    Office of Disability Services offering resource for faculty

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    Wright State Physicians Dermatology to offer summer skin seminar

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    News

    Board of Trustees approve budget, effective July 1

  • Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor

    Crime

    Thefts reported in campus offices, suspect identified

Wright State University
Chancellor Dennis Shields moves to fire whistleblower professor