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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Joe Gow’s case concludes in day two of disciplinary hearing

Screen shot from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage of June 19 hearing. Footage by Mark Hoffman

The second, more sparsely attended, day of Former Chancellor Joe Gow’s disciplinary hearing took place June 20 at the Omni Center in Onalaska. Gow was again accompanied by his wife, Carmen Wilson, and represented himself while he called his witness and presented his case.

The hearing began at 9:17 a.m. with Gow calling his sole witness, Interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan. Gow’s initial inquiries to Morgan pertained to his rebuttal of the “insubordination” allegations outlined in Morgan’s written statement against him. These allegations assert that Gow refused to cooperate with investigators.

Gow presented emails between himself, Husch Blackwell—the law firm leading the case—and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), which had offered him a lawyer on a pro bono basis. However, a lawyer had not been assigned before the investigation had ended on March 14, an end date Gow said he was unaware of.

Directed to Morgan, Gow said, “So you can appreciate I was in dialogue with the investigators and was trying to cooperate with them, but I had not yet gotten an attorney from FIRE.”

Gow shared a document from investigators which requested he disclose over 12 years of Amazon history, the site where his and Carmen’s books were sold under a pen name. Gow explained his reluctancy to provide this information, questioning why investigators were asking for information four years before the first book became available.

In an email to Morgan, Gow wrote, “I would very much like to participate in it [the investigation] therefore, I appreciate receiving any questions you have about my states of economic interest in writing, I will answer them in writing.”

Morgan said she had not responded to this email and restated that failing to appear in-person is failing to cooperate with the investigation.

Gow then addressed the claim in the investigative report that Gow’s computers had information deleted from them and the mention of returned computers by Gow in the charges against him. Gow presented text messages Morgan had sent to connect UWL Police Chief Alan Hill and UW System lawyer, Quinn Williams.

One text from Morgan to Hill read, “As soon as the laptop is secured and we’re not 100% sure that it’s in his office but if it’s in his office it needs to be FedEx to the following [redacted text]”

The redacted address was the home address of Williams. Morgan explained how typically devices would be sent directly to investigators. However, an investigative firm had not yet been chosen and it was a holiday weekend so the devices were sent to Williams. The secured computers were mailed on Dec 22, five days before Gow was dismissed by the UW Board of Regents.

“So clearly my wife Carmen and I did not turn in our computers to UWL,” said Gow.

This was the completion of Gow’s case against the university.

After the hearing entered a ten-minute recess, both sides were allowed ten minutes to deliver their closing statements.

Closing statements from UWL emphasized that Joe Gow’s presence on campus would extend the ongoing controversy

UW System Attorney Wade Harrison delivered the university’s closing statement. “The university has provided evidence that established the just cause to terminate Dr. Gow’s employment, Dr. Gow has violated university policy and has undermined the trust that the university once had in him,” Harrison said. “More troubling is that he just doesn’t seem to get it.”

Harrison explained Gow’s refusal to speak with investigators amounts to insubordination and led to “surprises” in the hearing that would’ve otherwise not been there. After Gow was dismissed, he was put on paid administrative leave. “He was paid approximately $50,000 for the spring semester and failed to perform his only assignment,” Harrison said.

What Gow had called a “conspiracy” Harrison dismissed. Harrison cited the “credible evidence” of Gow violating information technology policy, as login credentials for pornographic websites were found on Gow’s university-owned laptops.

Harrison mentioned the Nina Hartley situation back in 2018, when Gow had invited the adult film actress to speak at UWL, but had not disclosed their previous business relationship prior to brining her to campus.

“Through articles Dr. Gow has clearly indicated that he will be open to discussing his hobby with students if he returns to the classroom,” said Harrison. Harrison explained how permitting Gow to teach would prolong the public controversy that has troubled UWL since Dec 2023, given Gow’s admission that he would welcome questions about his lifestyle.

Joe Gow argues in closing statements there is no proof of harm caused to UWL

Gow reminded the committee that the Wisconsin state statute guiding this hearing states a tenured faculty member has all the rights the constitution promises to any other US citizen. “I hope you all agree that we are fortunate to live in a state and country that affords us these protections,” He said.

Morgan had said on day one of the hearing that she hears concerns about UWL everywhere she goes, Gow said conversely him and Carmen have had students, faculty, staff and alumni tell them, “they find what the university is doing to us to be an egregious overreaction.”

Gow said that it is “indisputable” the university has not experienced “substantive negative effects.” He cited a growing incoming class, a balanced budget and new large sum donations.

“They have alleged but not proved insubordination,” said Gow. He believes his offer of written responses to the investigation is complying, while UW System does not. “The UW System is using their own definition of what it means to participate in an investigation,” he said.

Gow denied using university-owned devices to post or visit adult content on any site. “We have no idea how those accounts become associated with our computers, but I can assure you we did not create them,” he said. He hoped the committee would concur that no one should be penalized for receiving unsolicited junk mail that they did not sign up for or intend to receive.

“After all, tenure is based on the quality of ones teaching, research and service. This fruitless exercise has nothing to do with that,” Gow said. “It likely to cause many people to raise the question, do Universities of Wisconsin faculty, students and staff have the right to engage in free speech in their personal lives particularly on contemporary social media?”

This concluded Gow’s closing statement.

The hearing then entered into close session where the UWL hearing committee will meet for deliberation. A written report will be issued from the committee and will be presented to both parties.

Following the hearing, Gow told The Racquet Press him and Carmen are very grateful for the students at UWL. As tears filled his eyes, he said, “We have heard from so many students…that just makes it all worth while and I hope I can go back to the classroom and see students.”


The Racquet Press will continue to provide updates and information becomes available.

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About the Contributor
Isabel Piarulli
Isabel Piarulli, Executive Editor
Year at UWL: Junior PGPs: She/Her/Hers Hometown: Menasha, WI Major: Psychology and Political Science Minor: Communication Studies Other Campus Involvement: Student Association CASSH Senator, University Centers Admin Assistant, Psychology Club, Pre-Law Society member Future Plans after Graduation: Attend law school Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Visiting Pearl Street Books
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