- Rationale

Introduction

"We expect our professors to criticize each other, to debate, to question authority...the actions themselves fall under the realm of educational employment in a university setting...the actions themselves, the actions of criticizing, debating, and questioning authority do serve a legitimate purpose...". [Zeke Wiedenfeld, Court Commissioner, Walworth County Circuit Court]

My name is Chris Henige. I have taught art history at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater since 2001.

The purpose of this site is to provide all of the documentation associated with my experiences at the university starting in 2012 and carrying through to the present day. I will be starting with the current and moving backward through time, and more materials will continue to appear on this site over time.

The documents, audio and commentary contained in this site are all a matter of public record.

- Complaint 7

Exhibit 40 - Jul 13, 2016 - Background

Letter from Chancellor Kopper outlining 2016-2017 obligations
Commentary:

This letter resulted from Disability Accommodations Request that I filed with the University on June 21, 2016. In that request, I stated that "Walking to and from classes and office, standing and moving around the classroom, and getting up and down from chairs, are all affected...I request that the teaching of all of my courses going forward be moved to the online environment...My condition has simply worsened over time and now precludes me from face-to-face instruction." On April 8, I had initiated the conversation about this, suggesting that I move my courses online, and that "I will have no on-campus responsibilities, and my load will become 50% teaching and 50% research." The Chancellor's letter is not the product of any "negotiations", nor is it any kind of "agreement". It is an assignment. In her letter, the Chancellor states that "you will not attend department meetings", and includes the threat that if I do, I will be subject to "additional disciplinary action up to and including dismissal."

- The original Disability Accommodations Request form contains personal information and I have simply quoted from it.

Exhibit 41 - Nov 11, 2016 - Background

Series of communications regarding my exclusion from department meetings.
Commentary:

This thread concerns the question of whether a faculty member can be legally excluded from meetings of their department. As usual, there was no response to the last email in the thread. The statute in question, Wis. Stat. 19.89, states that "No duly elected or appointed member of a governmental body may be excluded from any meeting of such body." There are no exceptions.

- Despite several requests, the administration has refused to provide any legal justification for their position.

Exhibit 46 - Feb 3, 2017 - Background

Series of communications regarding my exclusion from department meetings.
Commentary:

Mertens makes a number of incorrect statements in the top email. He suggests there was a "mutually agreed upon plan", which there obviously was not. He then states that "as part of the agreement" (which there wasn't) "you were relieved of on campus responsibilities." Being relieved of responsibilities is most certainly a release, and not a mandate, and yet Mertens, Elrod and Kopper insist that they have the authority to exclude me from participating in open government and shared governance, which clearly, by statute, they do not. They have declined to provide me with any legal basis for their position.

Exhibit 42 - Feb 21, 2017 - Complaint

Complaint filed by Interim Dean Bob Mertens citing "insubordination".
Commentary:

My extensive and detailed comments on this complaint can be found in the next document.

Exhibit 48 - Mar 26, 2017 - Complaint Annotated

Annotated version of the complaint
Commentary:

This document includes the original text of the complaint, with my responses interspersed within it.

Exhibit 392 - Feb 20, 2017 - Background

Communication with the Provost
Commentary:

There was no response, except the next day the complaint was filed.

Exhibit 393 - Feb 20, 2017 - Background

Communications with the Provost
Commentary:

There was no response, except the next day the complaint was filed.

Exhibit 43 - Feb 21, 2017 - Complaint Exhibits

Attachments to complaint filed by Interim Dean Bob Mertens citing "insubordination".
Commentary:

My comments on the attachments can be found in the next two documents.

Exhibit 47 - Mar 26, 2017 - Complaint Exhibits Annotated

Annotated version of certain exhibits contained in the exhibits
Commentary:

This document includes the original text of several of the emails from colleagues which were included the exhibits attached to the complaint, with my responses interspersed within them.

Exhibit 54 - Mar 26, 2017 - Notes on the Complaint Exhibits

Notes to accompany reading of the exhibits to the complaint.
Commentary:

This is an item-by-item commentary on the exhibits attached to Mertens' complaint.

Exhibit 44 - Mar 8, 2017 - Notice of Complaint

Notification by the Chancellor relative to Complaint 7.
Commentary:

Kopper makes the very clear statement that "I find that these allegations are substantial such that, if true, they would warrant your dismissal." These allegations are that I declined to allow Mertens to censor my communications, and in doing so, deprive the faculty of my department of the facts of my case. This is considered "insubordination". Also notable in this notification is her statement regarding my potential suspension if I fail to comply with her continuing directive to allow my communications to be censored by Mertens. What she does not mention is that any such suspension would be with pay, as my alleged conduct does not in any way meet the requirements for suspension without pay. The intent of her statement is to intimidate, not to inform.

Exhibit 45 - Mar 8, 2017 - UWS Chapter 4

Rules governing dismissal for cause.
Commentary:

This was included with the notification and also internal to the complaint.

Exhibit 85 - Feb 27, 2017 - Background

Audio of Faculty Meeting
Commentary:

There could not be a clearer example of a dysfunctional faculty than this 28-minute recording, except perhaps the March 9, 2015, and the May 19, 2016 meeting, and... The voices you hear are Greg Cook (chair), Max White, Renee Melton, Sue Messer and Terri Frame. Lots of allegations, no proof. To his credit, Cook does present the legal side of things, including the right not to be collegial (for which I was suspended), but to his discredit he certainly inclines toward depriving the recorder of their right to record meetings, because it affects his perceptions of "community" (how this is different from collegiality he does not say). It's unfortunate that he sees his role as protector and not as cleaner. It's a fascinating listen.

- The next entry is a transcript, as some voices are difficult to hear.

Exhibit 170 - Feb 27, 2017 - Background

Transcript with annotation of meeting audio
Commentary:

Certain individuals in the audio are difficult to hear, and the comments they make are certainly worth annotation.

Exhibit 49 - Mar 25, 2017 - More Backgound

Email sent to faculty regarding art history accreditation requirements
Commentary:

I have raised these issues before, and doing so led to a one-month suspension. As I understand it, the "solution" on the table is to compress three already compressed 15-week courses into 12 weeks, and add 3 weeks of new content to each of them, content with which the instructors of those courses have no expertise. This is hearsay, as Interim Dean Mertens has declined to provide me with the actual proposals, to change courses in the area in which I am still the senior faculty member.

Exhibit 50 - Mar 25, 2017 - More Backgound

Email sent to faculty regarding BFA degree issues
Commentary:

I have raised these issues before as well. Colleagues became very defensive because what they are doing "works", apparently regardless of how much extra that is costing the students in both time and money.

Exhibit 51 - Mar 25, 2017 - More Backgound

Email sent to faculty regarding student post-foundations review issues
Commentary:

I have raised this issue before, and doing so was cited as "harassment", principally because I called the practice of providing students with the language of the Undergraduate Catalog in preparation for the review, and then conducting that review entirely differently, "incompetent and irresponsible". I stand by this assessment.

Exhibit 52 - Mar 27, 2017 - More Backgound

Email sent to faculty regarding Michael Flanagan's conduct
Commentary:

This speaks for itself. You might ask why I felt it necessary to take this path. These issues were reported to Interim Dean Mertens, who, to my knowledge, did nothing, while at the same time seeking my dismissal for "violating" the very same proscription, inappropriate as that proscription may be. It underscores the duplicitous nature of the individuals involved in all of this. My colleagues have a right to know about the character of the people with whom they work on a daily basis. The "harangue" to which Flanagan refers is included in the attachments to the complaint.

- I'm told Flanagan will once again be serving as interim chair during the summer.

Exhibit 53 - Apr 4, 2017 - More Background

Email from Chancellor Kopper indicating she was having my email to the faculty blocked
Commentary:

This is an overt act of censorship solely intended to prevent the facts from reaching my colleagues. The Chancellor and her administration have consistently misinformed the faculty about my circumstances, and what they are permitted to reveal about my circumstances, in the hopes that by precluding me from contacting them, and them from contacting me, their lies will not be exposed. It seems to me absurd to accept that an employer has the right to dictate with whom you can and cannot associate, both in the workplace and outside the workplace - an absolutely egregious intrusion. It will be interesting to see whether Chancellor Kopper is willing to commit a federal offense by blocking delivery of the US Mail as well. This action on Kopper's part was precipitated by my sending the following four emails to the department faculty.

- Did I mention that this block included all members of the Department faculty, the vast majority of whom did not request it?

Exhibit 55 - Apr 6, 2017 - Open Records Request

Open Records request seeking information on all disciplinary actions taken against several individuals.
Commentary:

I am aware of several infractions of campus policy, rules and state law which have been reported to the administration, but am not aware of any disciplinary actions that may have been taken against these individuals. This request will resolve that.

- Update: I received one letter of reprimand against one individual, and was told the rest are protected by "attorney-client privilege". Either they don't exist, or are those involved suing the University?

Exhibit 527 - Apr 10, 2017 - Department Meeting

A Visit from the Chief of Institutional Policy and Compliance
Commentary:

Paige Reed visited the Department to speak about what is and what is not appropriate to talk about in department meetings. Why was this necessary? As you listen, you'll understand. Reed confirmed that every assertion I have made about open records, and my rights to distribute them, has been true. Reed also stated quite clearly that comments made in open meetings taint subsequent investigations, so the comments made at the March 9, 2015 meeting, during an ongoing investigation, presumably tainted that investigation of claims which ultimately resulted in my suspension for a semester.

Exhibit 528 - Apr 10, 2017 - Department Meeting

Transcript of Department Meeting
Commentary:

This is a transcript of the portion of the hearing involving Paige Reed, Chief of Institutional Policy and Compliance.

Exhibit 83 - Apr 13, 2017 - Complaint

Annotated version of the Investigator's Report
Commentary:

The weaknesses of the "investigation" are laid bare in this annotated version of the report. It seems that the standard for such reports is how closely they align with the Chancellor's position, and not whether or not anything is actually investigated. It might be argued that since I chose not to participate, I have to accept what was presented. It should also be noted that the investigator had access to all of the documentation above.

Exhibit 225 - Apr 28, 2017 - Charge

Charge issued by Chancellor Kopper
Commentary:

Original text of the charge

Exhibit 226 - Apr 28, 2017 - Charge

Annotated version of the charge
Commentary:

This speaks for itself...

Exhibit 330 - May 16, 2017 - Response

Response to the Charge
Commentary:

This includes the request for hearings, as well as arguments for suspending the timeline for the hearings during the off-contract summer months, and because I have no access to my potential witnesses.

Exhibit 331 - May 17, 2017 - Response

UW-System Legal Response
Commentary:

My response to their arguments is contained in the next document.

Exhibit 332 - May 17, 2017 - Response

Response to UW-System Response
Commentary:

Point-by-point rebuttal of the UW-System's position.

Exhibit 333 - May 17, 2017 - Response

Communications with Faculty Senate Chair
Commentary:

The Faculty Senate Chair's acknowledgement of receipt of my request for hearings and request from him to share information and confer with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

Exhibit 337 - May 24, 2017 - Response

Communications with Faculty Senate Chair
Commentary:

This documents how the Faculty Senate Chair really has no clue what is going on. I'm sure I will be asked to pay for his incompetence.

Exhibit 359 - May 29, 2017 - Deadline Missed

Notice of Hearing
Commentary:

I requested a hearing on May 16, which means that according to statute, it must occur within 20 days, or June 5. Also according to statute, notice of the hearing must be given at least 10 days in advance of the hearing, or May 29. No notice was given, and in fact, there is no evidence that a hearing panel even existed on this date.

Exhibit 338 - Jun 1, 2017 - Objections

Communication with Secretary of Faculty Senate
Commentary:

The attachment is the next document.

Exhibit 339 - Jun 1, 2017 - Objections

Objections
Commentary:

Outlines obvious violations of UWS 4.03, 4.04 and 4.05(a). The Chancellor has known since at least April 28 that she was seeking dismissal, (and I suspect a long time before that - my experience with Interim Dean Mertens is that he does not have the constitution to enter into anything that might remotely be construed as confrontational of his own accord) and that there was a possibility that there would be hearings, and yet did nothing to insure that the proper mechanisms were in place to do so. The same applies to her counsel. There are no excuses.

Exhibit 356 - Jun 2, 2017 - Response

UW-System Response to Hearing Panel Composition
Commentary:

This includes the Chancellor's counsel's acceptance of the composition of the hearing panel, and my request for an explanation why we aren't already past the point of no return relative to UWS 4. Let's see if we hear anything on this.

- Update: Nope.

Exhibit 435 - Jun 5, 2017 - Hearing

Proposed Schedule of Hearing
Commentary:

This contains no clear statement regarding whether nine-month faculty can be compelled to conduct University business while off-contract. Dr. Olson has simply evaded the topic altogether. You'll also note that there is no acknowledgment that blocking my access to my potential witnesses might be in any way inappropriate.

Exhibit 436 - Jun 30, 2017 - Response

Notification
Commentary:

More objections are raised.

Exhibit 437 - Jun 30, 2017 - Response

Annotated Response
Commentary:

This speaks for itself.

Exhibit 438 - Jun 30, 2017 - System Objections

UW-System Legal Responds
Commentary:

Again I have annotated this directly for your convenience.

Exhibit 439 - Jul 14, 2017 - Hearing

Pre-Hearing Conference
Commentary:

Despite there being no provision for such anywhere in the rules, I am sent a "reply requested" email while the sender knows I am overseas conducting research and have limited access to email. Then she requires that response two days after my return to the US.

Exhibit 440 - Jul 16, 2017 - Response

My Response
Commentary:

I suspect the University can conduct no business that is above board.

Exhibit 441 - Jul 18, 2017 - Notification

Notification of Website
Commentary:

Here I have notified the Hearing Panel where to find most of the documentation I will be submitting in evidence. It's the website you're looking at right now.

Exhibit 442 - Jul 19, 2017 - Exhibits

Addition to the Website
Commentary:

Because the issue of blocking my access to witnesses remains an issue, I have added the statutes regarding intimidation of witnesses to the website.

Exhibit 443 - Aug 4, 2017 - Hearing

Pre-Hearing Conference
Commentary:

Once again I press the issue of whether nine-month employees can be compelled to conduct University business while off-contract...

Exhibit 444 - Aug 7, 2017 - Panel Response

Pre-Hearing Conference Cancelled
Commentary:

...and once again the Chair of the Hearing Panel has evaded the issue by simply cancelling the conference.

- At no time throughout any of the proceedings have I ever been forced to conduct University business while not under contract, despite countless attempts to force me to. I presume this means I have been right, but we will never see the University admit it in writing. Why should we, as employees, know our rights?

Exhibit 434 - Aug 16, 2017 - More Objections

For the Record
Commentary:

A summary of objections to date, specifically surrounding my rights under UWS Chapter 4, and the numerous violations of those rights by the the hearing panel.

- It continues to strike me as odd that the panelists would jeopardize their professional reputations by accepting counsel from someone paid by the same people that pay UW-System Legal counsel. I'm sure there's no conflict of interest there...

Exhibit 447 - Aug 21, 2017 - Panel Response

Response to Objections
Commentary:

Fortunately, the law provides me with the opportunity to seek judicial review of any final decision under Wis. Stat. 227.57(4). So we will plod on through the entire process and then see whether any of it involved a "failure to follow prescribed procedure".

- I'm guessing the answer is yes...repeatedly.

Exhibit 448 - Aug 21, 2017 - Objections

Notice to UWW Counsel
Commentary:

What a surprise! A faculty panel adjudicating the value of tenure can't decide whether there should be a high standard of proof.

Exhibit 449 - Aug 21, 2017 - Hearing

UWW Counsel's Response
Commentary:

This should be interesting.

Exhibit 445 - Aug 23, 2017 - Hearing

Official Notice of Hearing
Commentary:

This meeting also appeared on the campus Calendar and News website. The Hearing Panel seems to have met its statutory obligation in this respect.

Exhibit 446 - Aug 23, 2017 - Hearing

Notice of Deliberation
Commentary:

I would not have thought that the panel needed to provide notice of such a meeting, but I find it refreshing to see that they are covering all of their bases. It is a meeting of a government body, and despite it being in closed session, providing notice does seem appropriate. Kudos.

- Credit where credit is due.

Exhibit 450 - Aug 24, 2017 - UWW Response

UW-System Legal's Response Annotated
Commentary:

Again, this speaks for itself.

Exhibit 465 - Aug 30, 2017 - Assignment

Fall Assignment Letter
Commentary:

More conspicuous isolation and abridgment of my statutory right to participate in shared governance. And more censorship. And another threat against my income if I fail to give up my statutory rights. Why not ask the faculty individually who wants to block me and who does not? Or maybe those who want me blocked can simply be instructed on the location of the delete key on their keyboard.

- Contents

Background
2001-2012

As You Read
Things to consider...

The Long Summary
A 28-page document summarizing the events of the last several years

All My Communications
(Those attached to complaints)

Initial "Complaint"
Filed May 8, 2013

Second Complaint
Filed December 30, 2013

Third Complaints
Filed September 5 and 15, 2014

First Kangaroo Court
December 29, 2014 to June 12, 2015

Temporary Restraining Order
January 17, 2015

Fourth Complaint
Filed January 26, 2015

Second Kangaroo Court
October 2, 2015 to January 4, 2016

More to come in between...

Appeal to the Regents
Filed July 29, 2016

Sixth Complaint
Filed September 4, 2016

Seventh Complaint (Seeking Dismissal for Cause)
Filed February 21, 2017

Third Kangaroo Court (Seeking Dismissal for Cause)
February 21, 2017 to present

Dismissal Hearing Video
September 8, 2017

Hearing Aftermath
After September 8, 2017

Proceedings with the Regents
October 27, 2017 to present

Positions Taken by the UWW
From the beginning to the present

Exhibits
Exhibits relevant to the Hearings