College of Pharmacy spray painted with threatening messages

Anna Lassmann

The College of Pharmacy building was tagged Monday morning with red spray paint messages such as “UT harbors abusers” and “Watch your back Richard.”

Cindy Posey, UTPD’s public information officer, said officers noticed the spray paint at approximately 3:25 a.m. Monday. The officers could smell that the paint was fresh at that time, Posey said.

UT’s Facilities Services began to work on removing the spray paint from the pharmacy buildings after UTPD noticed the paint, Posey said.

The incident comes after the Austin American-Statesman reported on Jan. 24 that pharmacy professor Richard Morrisett was still employed by UT after pleading guilty to felony charges.

In May 2016 Morrisett was charged with strangling his girlfriend until “she saw stars,” and was later accused of another violent incident in July 2016 that sent his girlfriend to the hospital and violated a restraining order, according to arrest affidavits.

Morrisett pleaded guilty to the first incident in February 2017, which resulted in an agreement with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office that resolved his cases and sentenced Morrisett to four years of probation, 100 hours of community service and a required class on family violence.

Morrisett declined to comment on the incidents.

UTPD is investigating the spray paint incident, said Jules Chan, UTPD public safety communications coordinator.

Lubna Mazin, College of Pharmacy representative for Student Government, said in an email that she does not agree with the UT’s decision to keep Morrisett on faculty, but she does not condone the vandalism that has taken place.

“The College of Pharmacy has received increased attention due to disappointing events involving Professor Richard Morrisett,” said Mazin, pharmacy graduate student, in an email. “While we respect all opinions and concerns during this difficult time, repeated vandalism to our school has made our students, faculty and staff feel unsafe. We are working diligently to address the repercussions of the situation and to amend current University policies.”

Following the release of the Austin American-Statesman article, UT President Gregory Fenves released a statement ordering the review of University policies and procedures.

Lynn Crismon, dean of the College of Pharmacy, said in an email that students should use outlets other than vandalism to express their opinions.

“President Fenves will form a review committee for UT policies regarding discipline for on and off campus conduct of its employees,” Crismon said in an email. “I wholeheartedly endorse President Fenves’ decision. I hope in the future individuals will use more constructive measures than defacing University property when trying to have their voices heard.”