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N.B. university professor fired after harassment investigation


A lengthy investigation into harassment at Crandall University in Moncton, N.B., that was started by an open letter calling on the school to look into allegations of sexual misconduct has resulted in the termination of a professor’s employment.

According to a news release from Crandall on Thursday, Dr. John G. Stackhouse Jr., a professor and member of faculty, was terminated from his position at Crandall, which is an independent liberal arts university with more than 1,400 students.

Last April, an open letter, which was signed by more than 80 alumni and current students, called on Crandall to investigate allegations of sexual harassment on campus. The university’s board of governors voted to hire an independent investigator to look into the claims.

“Every student is entitled to a positive and safe learning environment, and it is troubling that these reports do not depict such an environment,” said Crandall Student Association president Luke Sullivan in a statement at the time.

According to the news release, the law firm Pink Larkin conducted the investigation and interviewed dozens of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other community members, along with reviewing emails, social media posts, and correspondence. The investigation focused on “inappropriate or sexually oriented statements or conversations” that occurred over nine months in 2020 and 2021.

“The investigation and the subsequent employment action conclude this incident, but clearly all of us at Crandall must work very hard to ensure that we maintain this very special University community at the highest standards,” said Sheila Cummings, former board of governors chair, in the release. “As the report to the Board recommends, our next step will be to focus on strengthening our harassment policies with input from our students and other members of our University community.”

According to the summary of findings from Pink Larkin, the investigator reviewed 100 pages of emails between the faculty member and a student that was deemed to be “inappropriate banter” over a period of seven months.

The investigator also found it “more likely than not” that there were complaints alleging misconduct by the faculty member from at least one student at a previous institution.

The investigator noted the faculty member’s behaviour with some of his students in the classroom was unwelcome and included “gender-based comments, sexist remarks, comments about a person’s looks, dress and appearance.”

“I believe he is deserving of severe disciplinary action,” the investigator stated. “Crandall needs to move quickly on this, and its actions need to be as transparent as the law on fairness and confidentially allow.”

“We are beginning a renewed focus on education and training for faculty, staff, and students, in order to help Crandall be the safest, most welcoming, and respectful community that it can be,” Cummings said. “We will do everything in our power to support, inspire, and protect the well-being of our students.”

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