UCF cuts ties with professor due to sexual harassment
A UCF adjunct professor, William Wise, was let go by the university after an investigation revealed sexual harassment on a student and retaliation by changing the student's grade.
The student, whose name was not released by UCF, alleged that Wise, who worked in the College of Education and Human Performance, made lewd comments during a spring 2014 meeting to discuss the student's grade, according to documents obtained from UCF Tuesday.
During the meeting, the student recalled a conversation where Wise referenced sexual behavior.
According to the investigative reports prepared by the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office, Wise said, "Oh! There's that boy again! What's his name?"
When the student asked who he was referring to, Wise said, "the boy you are doing instead of doing your homework."
After feeling "uncomfortable and afraid," the student ended the meeting with Wise and decided to have no further in-person contact with him.
After the meeting, the student's father said, during an EOAA interview, that the student came home "upset and humiliated about Dr. Wise's insinuating comments."
During a later grade appeal hearing, the student alleged he or she decided to not meet the professor in person for a fall 2014 course, EDG 2311, to address a failing grade because of his conduct in the April meeting.
"This office finds that the student’s reaction and reluctance to have further contact with Dr. Wise was reasonable. Therefore, Dr. Wise’s comments actually interfered with the student’s educational opportunities. Accordingly, EOAA finds that Dr. Wise subjected the student to sex-based harassment," said Maria Beckman, the director of UCF's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action program, in the reports.
Wise denied the allegations and said he did not recall having a meeting with the student or emailing the student, telling him or her to come by his office anytime to submit an extra credit assignment. He claimed the student earned his or her failing grade for poor attendance and failure on many assignments.
Despite Wise's rebuttal, the student provided emails exchanged between the student and Wise on April 1 and April 2, which contradicted Wise's comments.
According to the report, the student also provided a Webcourses email, notifying the student that Wise had changed the grade on an assignment from an A to an F on April 15, 2015, just two hours before the grade appeal hearing.
During the hearing, Wise could not give a reasonable explanation as to why he changed the student's grade. UCF ruled that Wise had retaliated the student's sexual harassment complaints.
A grade appeal committee changed the student's grade from an F to a B.
After the meeting, Wise said in the documents, "Well, I guess it has finally caught up to me."
Wise was notified on July 22 that he would not be rehired as an adjunct professor for the College of Education.
The documents also clarified that Wise had no previous records of sexual harassment during his 17 years at UCF.
Wise declined to comment on the investigation.
Shanae Hardy is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaeH@CentralFloridaFuture.com