Professors air grievances in open letter, claim university discipline made professor “a threat to himself”

UVU’s statement denies wrongdoing in case of Michael Shively

This story mentions suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal feelings, call 1-800-273-8255.

Multiple faculty members authored an open letter detailing their objections to the disciplinary actions taken against their former colleague Michael Shively. According to the letter, Shively took his own life on Aug. 19, after his investigation had been cleared.

A statement distributed to UVU’s Faculty Senate, the self-described “official voice of the faculty” at UVU, listed the infractions that lead to Shively’s suspension and the investigation that followed, ultimately claiming that “most of the allegations (against Shively) were substantiated.”

The allegations that lead to Shively’s suspension were noted in UVU’s statement, including, “intimidation and bullying of students and colleagues”, “discrimination” and “retaliation”.

In a blog post, Scott Abbott, a professor of integrated studies at UVU, provided his commentary on UVU’s handling of Shively’s suspension.

“Repeated decisions by the (Matt) Holland/(Jeffrey) Olson administration, along with this case initiated by the (Astrid) Tuminez/Olson administration working on inherited principles, have caused harm to individual members of the faculty and have degraded our confidence that principles of fairness and due process will be adhered to,” posted Abbott on the blog.

Here are the letters in full.

Open Letter Shively by Anonymous DVisFC7 on Scribd

Shively FINAL 2019.13.09 v2 by Zachary Smith on Scribd

A new and updated statement was provided for release after the publication of this article. This updated statement is provided above. The contents of the statement itself were virtually unchanged.

An updated letter was provided with additional staff signatures.

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Zachary Smith

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9 thoughts on “Professors air grievances in open letter, claim university discipline made professor “a threat to himself”

  1. Dr Shively was one of the best teachers I have ever had. He made all of his students work hard for our grades but that made us better. Many going into a medical field were more qualified because of his requirements.

  2. The allegations were substantiated and I don’t see the value of a letter signed by professors of math or journalism. He knowingly made the continued choice to disregard university policies. What about the students that did not receive the grades they deserved due to unfair grading practices, where is their justice. It is sad Dr. Shively is gone but that is independent of UVU investigating complaints, many of which were substantiated. The blame lies with Dr Shively for his untimely death and his decisions to knowingly disregard policies and norms.

    1. The comment in the UVU response that the charges, in this case, were substantiated is self-serving and frankly not credible. Who made that determination? What was it based on? Was the determination made by a fair and impartial person?

      1. Findings, such as “substantiated” are determined by experienced, independent investigators (non-UVU persons). The findings were determined by the investigator in advance of the tragic event in question, not fabricated to serve the university in light of it. This claim is serving a very narrow-minded objective. I wonder if the faculty signing on to the open letter have considered the message they are sending to victims of harassment (UVU students and their own colleagues) by dismissing and downplaying the allegations. By all means examine the processes; but fairness must be extended both ways.

  3. Findings, such as “substantiated” are determined by experienced, independent investigators (non-UVU persons). The findings were determined by the investigator in advance of the tragic event in question, not fabricated to serve the university in light of it. This claim is serving a very narrow-minded objective. I wonder if the faculty signing on to the open letter have considered the message they are sending to victims of harassment (UVU students and their own colleagues) by dismissing and downplaying the allegations. By all means examine the processes; but fairness must be extended both ways.

  4. Vague claims substantiated by non-UVU investigators determining fabricated findings be fact. No evidence to be shown, no disclosure of accusers, no rights to a fair and speedy trial. those involved have successfully torn away the life’s work of a man who singlehandedly been the biggest asset UVU had possessed. these “victims” are the incompetent individuals bitter towards not receiving a better grade, even though they were in fact inadequate. These individuals that cry over a grade will be the same medical practitioners accidentally killing patients for their lack of knowledge. it’s clear that the president of the University has no knowledge of the days where no medical establishment would hire Any of UVU’s nursing student. they’ve already forgotten that, if it weren’t for Dr. Shively, they’d still be in that situation.

    1. Have you read the investigation report, or are you just disinclined to believe complainants based on personal bias? Many students begrudge professors over their grades, and some may even make official complaints, but these rarely get very far unless there is credible, documented evidence of abuses. You clearly hold Dr. Shively in high regard, as do many in the UVU community, but that unfortunately doesn’t preclude the possibility that he was causing active harm to others. If the allegations made against him were not in good faith, then I hope that his advocates find justice on his behalf. However, questioning the motives and substance of the allegations (again, found to be substantiated by a person who is an expert in conducting evidence-based investigations) due to your personal admiration of the man or due to the university’s flawed procedures is not fair to potential victims who may have actually experienced harm, and who may feel partially responsible for an outcome they would not have wished for. Abuses do occur, and it is important to have systems in place where they can be reported and addressed in appropriate ways (it may be the case that the university’s response did not meet this standard). I think that unless there is specific evidence that allegations were fabricated or made in bad faith we need to extend kindness and support to those who came forward with concerns, and hold the university alone responsible for the way in which the investigation was conducted (which would have been out of the control of any student).

  5. Dr. Shively had an amazing course. If you read your textbook, attended lecture, and answered your objectives, you would have no issue passing his class. If you want to become something in the medical field, this is a great class to take to understand how important it is to study and understand. He is the reason I got excited and love anatomy to this day. The school took him away while hard working students were just about to take finals! We had a complete shift in lecture and test style, causing many to do worse because of said shift. Even if these allegations are sustained…. it shouldn’t of happened until the end of the semester for paying students who chose to take a difficult course to learn more.

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