Fired UVU professor sues the university

Former assistant professor Kemal Makasci has filed a lawsuit against UVU, claiming he was wrongfully terminated as a result of a conspiracy between two students during the 2015-2016 school year. The former professor’s lawsuit is based on the Utah Protection of Public Employees Act. 

Former UVU President Matthew Holland suspended Makasci without pay during the fall semester in 2016 due to allegations against the professor. According to Makasci, he was officially fired by university administration in May 2017 because of the students’ allegations.

Makasci worked in the university’s Department of Exercise Science and Outdoor Recreation for nearly 14 years, and briefly served as the head coach of the UVU men’s soccer team.

Makasci declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

A letter exhibited in court documents to Makasci from Melissa Frost, UVU’s former director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and Title IX, alleges that he made discriminatory comments to female students. 

Frost’s letter accused Makasci of making comments such as “Females don’t belong in the physical education field” and “Women belong in the kitchen cooking meals.” 

Her letter also accused Makasci of refusing to provide feedback on female students’ assignments, ignoring questions from female students and telling female students that their answers were wrong, while telling male students those same answers were correct. 

The letter further accused Makasci of retaliation against students who complained about the issues and claimed Makasci denied each allegation.

Frost was fired by UVU in 2017. Makasci’s court documents claim UVU fired her, in part, because “she had failed to appropriately process and complete the Title IX investigations for which she was responsible, including those of Dr. Makasci.”    

In his lawsuit claims, Makasci states that from 2003 to 2016, he was an exemplary employee with no disciplinary action on his UVU employment record.

Having received tenure status in 2007, the lawsuit claims he could be fired “only under extraordinary circumstances, such as financial exigency or program discontinuation.”

Makasci’s lawsuit also claims that “a specific group of UVU students… openly mocked, parodied, made fun of, taunted and harassed Dr. Makasci before, during, and after his class.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office, which represents Utah Valley University in court, has filed for a dismissal of the case on technical grounds. They claim Makasci’s lawsuit was not filed in a timely manner and does not mention a specific person as a defendant.

The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment, as they do not comment on ongoing litigation. 

According to Robin Maras, UVU’s Title IX Investigator, their office is trying to spread awareness to the student body that they are an available on-campus resource for anyone needing help with sex discrimination, harassment or assault issues. The office is located in BA 203.

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