UT-Austin cancels two undergrad classes taught by professor accused of student-teacher relationship


Shelby Tauber

International Relations and Global Studies senior Gerado Amaya tweets during his World Literature class on January 13, 2013.

Anna Lassmann

The University has canceled two undergraduate courses for the fall semester taught by English professor Coleman Hutchison, who was recently found to have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a former graduate student, according to an Austin American-Statesman report.

Hutchison and graduate student Jenn Shapland confirmed their relationship, which lasted from November 2011 to February 2012, shortly after Shapland wrote about it in October 2017 in a literary journal, the Arkansas International.

Within a month of the article’s publication, UT received two anonymous reports about Shapland’s relationship through the Compliance Services Reporting Hotline bringing it to UT’s attention, prompting an eight-month investigation by the Office for Inclusion and Equity and the Office for Legal Affairs, the University’s investigation summary obtained through an open records request states.

The University completed the investigation this June and found Hutchison was in violation of three University policies: failing to immediately alert his supervisor of a consensual relationship, engaging in an unreported consensual relationship with a student and making comments of a sexual nature to graduate students. However, the investigation did not find Hutchison’s behavior as sexual harassment, according to the investigation summary.

“(UT) is committed to providing an educational environment in which all members, most especially its students can learn, work and thrive,” Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost, said to Hutchinson in a letter. “As such, all faculty members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner at all times.”

In addition to canceling Hutchison’s two undergraduate courses for the fall, the University has also barred him from supervising graduate students alone for the next two years, and he can’t be considered for promotion to full professor or appointment to any leadership position, according to the investigation summary.

Hutchison must also participate in discussions with associate deans on appropriate relationships and boundaries with students, according to the investigation summary.