Fenves strengthens policy for disciplining employees for criminal conduct

Chase Karacostas

The University is strengthening its policy to discipline employees for crimes committed off campus, according to an email this morning from UT President Gregory Fenves.

The decision comes two months after uproar over the revelation that the University did not discipline pharmacy professor Richard Morrisett after he pleaded guilty to felony assault of his girlfriend off campus.

“Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when an employee’s conduct becomes a criminal matter,” Fenves wrote. “In such cases, it is incumbent upon the university to respond.”

The details about Morrisett came following an investigation by the Austin American-Statesman. In the succeeding days, protests and other demonstrations occurred demanding that the University take action against him.

Fenves said he created a committee in January to analyze the procedures for responding to “criminal violations, or allegations of criminal violations, by our employees.” The committee then made a set of recommendations in a report sent to Fenves on March 30.

The “most significant” change Fenves said he accepted is that “UT’s Mission, Core Values and Code of Conduct” will now be considered when the analyzing employee conduct regarding criminal violations.

“Each criminal case is different, and the law requires that a case be evaluated based on the facts and circumstances of each,” Fenves said. “The proposed new processes give the university the ability to take disciplinary action when employee conduct poses a threat to campus safety and security or other campus operations or contradicts the core values upon which the university is built.”