Professor Joel Elgin resigns from position at UWL

Photo+by+Carly+Rundle-Borchert.+

Photo by Carly Rundle-Borchert.

Sam Stroozas, Managing Editor

On Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 4:37 p.m. Chancellor Gow sent an email to UWL students and colleagues explaining that Professor Joel Elgin of the Art Department will no longer be employed at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Prior to being put on the tenure track in 1997 at UWL,  he was teaching part-time at Luther College. Elgin received his master’s in arts and a master’s in fine arts from the University of Iowa. His prior teaching history includes the University of Maine, Dartmouth College, Yale University, Swarthmore College, and Amherst College. 

On Sept. 4, Elgin was accused of sexual misconduct against a UWL student via social media. On Sept. 17 the student and her legal team released a personal statement regarding sexual misconduct.

Nov. 22 Gow met with UW system legal counsel about the matter. No information has been revealed to the public since his last email expressing the importance of UWS Chapter 4 which explains the legality behind misconduct cases and the rights of professors and students.

Gow said that rather than responding to the completed investigative report into the sexual harassment allegations against him, Elgin decided to leave UWL. Gow had a meeting scheduled earlier today with Elgin for the opportunity to respond to the report, but Gow said Elgin canceled the meeting.

“I had scheduled a meeting earlier today to provide Elgin his legally required opportunity to respond to the conclusions in the investigative report. Through his attorney, Elgin canceled our meeting. He received a copy of the investigative report on Friday, November 22nd, and the meeting he declined earlier today would have been his opportunity to tell his side of the story,” said Gow.

Gow expressed that he wants to share the investigative report with the UWL public. “I am eager to share the investigative report with you. I found it to be thorough and compelling enough to move the process of dismissing a faculty member to its next phase. I firmly believe the testimony of the individuals interviewed by the investigators and I thank them for their courage in coming forward to tell us about their experiences with Professor Elgin. On behalf of our university, I apologize to them for what they have been subject to. I think that once you read the investigative report you will understand why I feel the way I do,” said Gow.

Although Wisconsin Public Records law 19.356 allows Elgin the opportunity to attempt to block the release of the report, it is unknown if this will be pursued. Gow said that he does not know if Elgin will attempt this, but he will share what he is legally able to do so when he can.

“But as soon as we are legally able to do so, I will share the report with you and hold an open forum to answer questions about it. Also, as required by UW System policy, the information about the investigation into Professor Elgin’s conduct will be kept in his personnel file even after he leaves the university and will be provided upon request to any institution where he may seek employment in the future,” said Gow.

The Racquet Press will be updating the UWL community as this story progresses.

UPDATE (Dec. 10 at 4:54 p.m.): The official Facebook page for UWL posted the image below with the caption, “Today Chancellor Joe Gow sent this statement to the UWL campus community following the conclusion of an investigation into sexual misconduct.”

Photo retrieved from the Facebook page of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
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