UGA professor loses tenure after public sex with student

Regents deny appeal of celebrated art teacher

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 12:22 PM
Last updated 7:02 PM
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ATHENS, Ga. -- The state Board of Regents has denied a University of Georgia art professor’s appeal of his tenure revocation for having public sex with a student.

UGA administrators began a rare tenure revocation process earlier this year against nationally known painter James Barsness for having sex in a public place with a student under his supervision at UGA’s Costa Rica 2012 Maymester study abroad program, which UGA administrators said was a violation of UGA’s harassment policy and other university and state Board of Regents policies.

The Board of Regents is the appointed group that sets policy for UGA and other state public colleges and universities.

A faculty committee appointed to act as a sort of jury in the case against Barsness rendered a split decision when it reported its findings to former UGA President Michael Adams in May.

All five committee members agreed Barsness had violated the UGA Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy by having sex with a student under his supervision, according to documents the university released under an open records request.

The sex was consensual, the committee concluded, though both parties “were under the influence of alcohol and/or potentially behavior-altering medication,” according to their May 2 report to Adams.

Barsness violated the UGA harassment policy, committee members agreed, but did not agree that the professor had violated other policies about academic integrity, neglect of duty and disruption of academic programs.

Committee members also did not agree on what sanctions Barsness should face. Two were in favor of tenure revocation, but three argued for lesser sanctions, noting mitigating factors such as Barsness’ “stellar reputation for teaching and research,” his previous positive record and evident remorse, and undisclosed medical issues.

But the UGA president is not bound to follow the recommendations of the faculty committee in a tenure revocation.

“I have great respect for the committee process, but I disagree with, and am disappointed in, the conclusions in this report,” Adams wrote in a May 13 letter to Barsness. “Upon review I have determined that public sex with a student under one’s direction and control in a UGA program merits termination. It is my judgment that the charges were sustained and that your employment relationship with UGA, including tenure, should be terminated as of this date.”

Regents, meeting in Atlanta, upheld Adams’ decision in a Wednesday meeting.

The tenure revocation proceeding was the second for UGA in about three years.

In 2010, administrators moved to take away comparative literature professor Dezso Benedek’s tenure.

But a faculty panel recommended against tenure revocation and Adams upheld the committee decision.

Benedek has filed suit in federal court, alleging that university officials were retaliating against him in violation of Constitutional guarantees of free speech.

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KSL
126737
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KSL 08/18/13 - 12:03 pm
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Guess that answered that

Guess that answered that question. Good job, gargoyle.

Darby
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Darby 08/17/13 - 09:12 pm
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"I most certainly do not believe in public

fornication or having sex with a student of that same professor !"

.
Well, you better believe in it, because that's what happened.

Okay, bledsoe, just yanking your chain... it's so much fun....

KSL
126737
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KSL 08/17/13 - 09:40 pm
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Darby

LOL. Dang. You are making me reconsider the debate thing.

albertoli
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albertoli 08/17/13 - 09:56 pm
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Human beings are weak and

Human beings are weak and make mistakes, but they shouldn't do it on the taxpayer's dime. The University System has rules against what he did, and he knew them. Fired.

A good example for the rest. I promise you he isn't the only one. It was going on when I went to UGA in the late '70's. A little deeper meaning to teacher's pet.

KSL
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KSL 08/17/13 - 10:24 pm
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Went to all girls colleges. I

Went to all girls colleges. I am grateful I did not have to stupe/stoop to that to get my A's.

But I did have this experience. In loco parentis rules required that I go through the college before I could visit a doctor or dentist. Had to be one on their lists. I needed a cap glued back on my tooth. Damned if he had to see me after hours, all help gone. Had me in the chair and made a rematk about the beauty of my eyes. Lucky for me, non response of any type allowed me to get glued and leave. That is glued, not screwed.

I don't think he would have liked encountering my 6'4 husband to be or my attorney father.

validPoint
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validPoint 08/17/13 - 10:37 pm
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Worst Ones

Corgimom, I am fully persuaded that the most dangerous people on earth is a deceitful preacher and a criminal armed with a Law License.

the compromiser
66
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the compromiser 08/18/13 - 02:43 am
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So Quick to Judge

You know, I have a problem with this whole situation. There were no raping going on, there were mutural consent among the two parties and most of all, they did this act in another country. To bring charges up against a faculty member who is out of the country and really minding his own business should be no concern of the University. Art most purest form is the naked body. Over in Europe, you'll see uncovered bodies almost everywhere. In America, we tend to look out the side of our eyes to see if this is really ocurring. The best advice I can give to the Regent is, get you some business and leave their's alone.

corgimom
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corgimom 08/18/13 - 06:34 am
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They were doing performance

They were doing performance art.

Bodhisattva
6012
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Bodhisattva 08/18/13 - 06:56 am
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And in the sportinf news

Coach Mark Richt suspends James Barsness for one game. Coach Richt said, Usually we open with a game against The Blind Little Sisters of Mercy, but this year it's Clemson. Barsness is going to be missed, but this is the SEC, and since he did it in public we couldn't use our standard penalty of a slap on the wrist."

myfather15
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myfather15 08/18/13 - 07:38 am
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Corgimom

"Ragingbull, the worst ones are the preachers and the counselors"

You're absolutely correct; and GOD agrees with you!! I've said this many times; no one is more critical of preachers, pastors, reverends, etc. than God himself!! There are to many scriptures to even mentioned, which condemn these people, calling them "Like the foxes in the desert".

But remember "By their FRUITS, ye shall know them" So, if you see their fruits, speak out against them and DO NOT attend their "churches"!!

Bizkit
30785
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Bizkit 08/18/13 - 09:18 am
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Do away with tenure-it's an

Do away with tenure-it's an antiquated system that has no place in modern universities. Even with tenure you can be fired and this is a slam dunk for revocation and firing. Least just not have any rules and let professors do what they want-which there is no longer academic freedom. The art professor being screwed up on drugs isn't an excuse for something so apparently stupid or egomaniacal. Hey everybody I'm the cool old art professor molesting my easily manipulated student. I remember my mentor for my PhD warning me of enamored students and the pit falls there in. I said trouble with a capital T. I just wish it was between the professor and a consenting male just to see the reaction-my Bad.

deestafford
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deestafford 08/18/13 - 09:29 am
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Today's editorial discusses the defining deviance down and

the actions of those on the committee who voted not to fire this professor is a classic example of why morals are declining. To have sex with one over whom one has supervisory responsibility is a serious breach of trust and should result in termination.

Bizkit
30785
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Bizkit 08/18/13 - 09:38 am
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Well it depends on if you

Well it depends on if you have a big grant too. I remember a case of obvious sexual harassment of a professor over his lab tech, but because he had a big grant he wasn't fired. I suggest the art professor get a big grant-then Dr. Adams attitude would likely change. hee,hee. I am not surprised the faculty supports the professor as it reminds me of Colorado and the faculty supporting Ward Churchill basically a fake, con artist, and pseudo-intellectual.

Graymare
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Graymare 08/18/13 - 11:53 am
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Not saying it's right but,

Not saying it's right but, this happens more often then y'all realize. This professor and his "of legal age" student just got caught. It was really, really dumb on his part.

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