Franklin College Faculty senators approved a report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Baldwin Hall expressing faculty and community concerns regarding the uncovering of human remains during an expansion project at Baldwin Hall. The report also condemns the University of Georgia’s alleged intimidation of faculty by UGA administrators.
Ad Hoc Committee on Baldwin Hall Chair Chris Pizzino presented claims from the report to senators at a Faculty Senate Special Session on April 23. The report alleged Digital Humanities Professor Scott Nesbit and other, unnamed faculty members were intimidated by UGA administrators.
In response, UGA President Jere Morehead said the report’s allegations of faculty intimidation were “unsubstantiated” in a letter sent to Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Dean Alan Dorsey and the Faculty Senate on April 22. Morehead said such allegations are “troubling from the standpoint of due process and fundamental fairness.”
Some stories of intimidation were “hearsay” while others were “highly credible,” the report said. Pizzino said Nesbit is the only source who discussed intimidation on record.
The report also condemned the “public targeting” of Anthropology Professor Laurie Reitsema who was criticized by UGA Executive Director of Media Communications Greg Trevor after Reitsema gave a presentation on the research of the remains to the Faculty Senate in March 2018.
In an interview with The Red & Black, Reitsema said she did not feel pressured by UGA to conduct her research of the remains in a certain way.
Audience member and Genetics Professor Janet Westpheling disagrees with points made in the report and said UGA conducted itself in a proper manner in response to the uncovering of the remains and following research. She said she considers the report “full of unfounded accusations.”
“Faculty are to be respected, their views are to be respected, but they may not make libelous statements against anyone without substantiating that,” Westpheling said. “Even though the statements were made by faculty members doesn’t mean they should be accepted without question, because people have [an] agenda.”
The report recommends the Senate call on UGA for a formal apology for the administration’s alleged “maligning of faculty expertise.” The Senate will consider this recommendation at a later date. Acceptance of the report does not mean the recommendations were passed.
The Senate voted to keep the ad hoc committee as an investigatory body. A motion to give the Senate the power to approve future changes to the report was tabled. A final appendix containing emails between the Office of the State Archaeologist was added.
Kaley Lefevre contributed to this article.