The University of Wisconsin System banned the husband of UW-Whitewater’s chancellor from campus and ended his unpaid appointment after a sexual harassment investigation found “merit” to the allegations made against him.
Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced the news in a statement Friday, saying that she “fully supported and cooperated with” the System’s investigation against her husband, Alan “Pete” Hill.
Since 2015, the year Kopper became chancellor, Hill served as an unpaid associate to the chancellor, which included attending fundraising and alumni events.
“This is a challenging and unique set of circumstances for me as a wife, as a woman, and as your Chancellor,” Kopper wrote.
Kopper issued her statement minutes after the UW System released 44 pages of records on Hill to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, according to the newspaper, which requested records on the investigation in July.
Those records show Hill, through his attorney, denying any wrongdoing.
“I unequivocally state that I have never sexually harassed or created an unprofessional work atmosphere,” Hill wrote in a letter to System lawyer Quinn Williams on July 24, about a month after the System sent a letter to Hill taking away his honorary title and banning him from both UW-Whitewater and its satellite campus, UW-Whitewater at Rock County.
A special investigator for the UW System found three instances of inappropriate contact by Hill, according to the report obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
The first alleged incident, a “full-body hug” from Hill that lasted “too long,” occurred sometime in 2015, records show.
Also in 2015, a woman reported he “invaded her body space” in a conference room when he allegedly leaned in for a kiss on the mouth. The woman turned her face so he met her cheek, according to the records.
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Hill did not categorically deny the hugging or kissing, but said “he did not remember” doing so, the System investigator wrote in the report.
The fact that the woman did not report the incidents for several years gave her credibility, according to the investigator’s report.
“She was concerned because her job depends upon maintaining a ‘friendly’ working relationship with the chancellor and the chancellor’s spouse and finally, she did not want to embarrass the chancellor,” the report said.
Most recently, a female employee told an investigator last spring that Hill squeezed her knee under a table “not less than three times.” The employee sat between Hill and Kopper at the April 2018 event.
Hill told the investigator it was one time, not three, and that he had to move her leg so he could reach his own to massage a cramp in his calf.
“As Chancellor, my top priority has always been and will continue to be ensuring that UW-Whitewater is a welcoming campus for all and that students, faculty and staff have a positive and safe environment in which to learn, live and work,” Kopper wrote.
Kopper said in her statement that personnel issues are not typically discussed publicly, but she was making an exception with the System’s permission.
A UW-Whitewater spokesman declined to comment and directed questions to the UW System.
UW System President Ray Cross released a statement that said Kopper immediately implemented the recommendations from the System’s independent investigation.
“I am confident the Chancellor will continue to make the well-being of the UW-Whitewater campus community a top priority,” Cross said in the statement. “In the UW System, it is one of our primary responsibilities to provide students, faculty and staff with a safe educational and work environment that is free of discrimination and harassment.”
Janesville Gazette reporter Jonah Beleckis contributed to this report.