A committee at the University of Idaho recommends that a journalism professor there be fired, leaving the final decision up to President Scott Green.
The Dismissal Hearings Committee found on August 30 that professor Denise Bennett’s conduct was unprofessional and unrepentant, setting up grounds for dismissal. It cited the professor’s profanity-riddled manifesto denouncing university bureaucracy, her treatment of a staff member and unwillingness to come to meetings.
“No doubt many University of Idaho faculty have, on occasion, lost their temper and uttered an expletive in a setting where if was unprofessional or inappropriate,” the committee states in their recommendation. “The expected behavior, in the face of such a lapse, is an acknowledgement of the wrongful behavior and an assurance that such conduct will not be repeated in the future.”
Bennett has continued to stand her ground without apology. This entire dispute came after an argument over grant funding.
The committee didn’t just look at Bennett, though. It was critical of the university's decisions, like sending out an alert to students and staff that the professor had access to firearms and had admitted using methamphetamine. That information came from a 2018 police report volunteered by the Moscow Police Department, even as officers had promised Bennett the information wouldn’t be shared with an employer and there was no physical evidence of meth use.
In their recommendation for dismissal, the committee says sending the alert could have just been a move to quell a student protest in support of Bennett.
“Questions have been raised about whether the University had sufficient reason to believe that Professor Bennett was a threat to campus safety. The harm caused to Professor Bennett’s reputation is undoubtedly significant.”
President Green hasn’t said when he’ll make the decision.
In a statement, Bennett says, “I am not finished fighting.” Bennett has been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 24, 2019.
Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8
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