Full Disclosure

About Full Disclosure

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Why does this website exist? What is our purpose?

Welcome to Full Disclosure. Our goal is to unify the exhaustive efforts of multiple individuals who have sought truth and action regarding unethical practices at Dixie State University. 

Our aim is to raise awareness with facts rather than conjecture. We hope to make it as easy as possible for you to take action and have your voice be heard. Most of all, we hope to help those who have been unjustly wronged by Dixie State University.

"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere."   -Elie Wiesel


An open letter to DSU Adminstration

To whom it may concern:

In light of recent events surrounding Dixie State University, I feel compelled as not only an alumna of DSU, but as an upstanding citizen, to write to you regarding my concerns.

I have personally known Dr. Ken Peterson for a decade. He is an expert in his field of vocal studies, and I do not exaggerate when using the word “expert.” His doctorate dissertation literally made groundbreaking scientific discoveries about the inner workings of the upper abdominal muscles in relation to the voice. He teaches with precision and gives students the tools they need to be great on their own, as all great teachers should. His demeanor is that of what people think a “good example” should be: hard working, understanding, kind, and truthful.

When, at the age of 17, I was searching for the school I would attend, I met with Dr. Peterson for a scholarship audition. I was extremely nervous but he immediately put me at ease with his genuine kindness and laughter. All of my other scholarship auditions had been no-nonsense— I came, I auditioned, I went on my way. Dr. Peterson’s audition process was different. I met with him in his office and he offered me a tour of the building first. He hadn’t even heard my singing voice before he decided to show me DSU as if it was my new home. After the process was over, I knew I wanted to come to Dixie State for one reason: to study with Dr. Ken Peterson. He didn’t disappoint, and my time at DSU was truly beneficial because of what I learned from him.

When Dr. Peterson was issued a “notice of termination” letter on March 2nd, I sprang into action. I created a group and a website called “Full Disclosure DSU” and gathered like-minded people to fight for a man we know could never do anything worthy of termination. That website is well maintained by myself. It has a very comprehensive timeline of every news article and major event since 2014 in regards to DSU’s despicable actions. I tell you this, not to brag, but to let you know exactly how informed I am on this subject matter. Many people who write “angry” letters do so without the proper background information, and so are usually brushed off as not fully comprehending the situation. I know Ken Peterson personally, and I fully understand the situation. It would, in my opinion, be a waste of time to try and convince me that Ken Peterson “deserved” to be terminated. It would also be a waste of time to try and convince me that DSU administration has handled this situation properly, as that is a blatant lie with many sources to prove it.

The main subject of this letter will be surrounding the “Last Chance Agreement” that accompanied Dr. Peterson’s “reinstatement” recommendation. I will explain how that agreement not only strips Ken Peterson of his rights, but also harms DSU, DSU’s current and prospective students, and is blatantly vindictive in nature.

The opening paragraph of the “Last Chance Agreement” (hereafter referred to as the LCA) specifies:

“...any violation by Dr. Peterson of DSU’s policies, and any terms expressed below after the execution of this Agreement shall result in his immediate termination of employment from DSU subject to the provisions of this Last Chance Agreement. This Agreement updates and amends the July 1, 2009 Tenure Agreement between Dr. Peterson and DSU.”

This sentence alone strips Dr. Peterson of his rights as a tenured professor. No specific DSU policies are listed, rather, ALL policies are included. Which means if Dr. Peterson violates even the smallest and most correctable of policies, he will be terminated without the proper due process. No other tenured employee is held to this standard. Essentially, this document has already stripped him of the

rights tenure granted him, therefore he has not been truly “reinstated.” In the second paragraph of the LCA, this sentence appears:

“The terms of this Agreement are final and nonnegotiable.”

I don’t know exactly what first-year law student wrote this dribble, but every contract in the world is negotiable, unless it is a slavery contract. This sentence also brings up vital questions. Why would a University not be willing to negotiate to keep a professor who not only earned tenure, but never once in his teaching career underwent corrective action? Why would they not fight to keep a man who was recommended for reinstatement by a board of his peers, who are also respected tenured professors? It would seem as an employer that you would want to keep your best employees, especially if other qualified and respected employees agreed that they should stay.

The second specification in the LCA states:

“Dr. Peterson has demonstrated unprofessional/uncivil behavior towards DSU and its faculty, staff, and administration. Dr. Peterson has also displayed inappropriate behavior towards DSU students. DSU has lost confidence in Dr. Peterson’s ability to act professionally and appropriately, in unsupervised or secluded areas; therefore, Dr. Peterson will be assigned a 12- credit course load of General Education courses and 3- Service credits per semester, which amounts to a 24-credit course load of General Education courses and a 6-Service credit course load per year.”

In this excerpt, it is said that Dr. Peterson has displayed inappropriate behavior towards DSU students. This is untrue and unsubstantiated. It is also not one of the few “reasons” Peterson was originally “terminated,” therefore it has been added to this LCA purely to paint Dr. Peterson in a terrible light.
If Dr. Peterson had truly displayed inappropriate behavior towards students, why would his peers and USHE recommend his reinstatement? This excerpt also states that “DSU has lost confidence” in Dr. Peterson. What exactly does reinstatement mean to DSU if not fully restored confidence? In order to be reinstated, Dr. Peterson had to undergo a rigorous 9 hour Faculty Review Board hearing, in front of his respected peers. That FRB listened to 9 hours of evidence, witness testimony, and cross-examination, and decided DSU didn’t have enough reason to fire Dr. Peterson.

The worst of that excerpt, however, is the fact they have assigned Peterson to teach 12 credits of “General Education” classes. They further specify in the fourth stipulation:

“Dr. Peterson will not provide private or digital lessons on DSU property or facilities, nor shall Dr. Peterson actively recruit/advertise private lessons and/or any other private business with DSU students while on DSU property, facilities, or during any DSU sponsored event.”

This means that Dr. Peterson’s decades of work to become a vocal studies professor mean nothing. He is forever more required to teach classes he did not train to teach, and will never be able to teach the subject in which his vast expertise lies. To say that this would harm the music students at DSU is an understatement. This is comparable to if you employed Einstein and had him teach a poetry class whilst banning him from ever teaching a physics class. In short, it’s utterly ludicrous.

In the thirteenth stipulation listed in the LCA, a make-shift restraining order is placed on Peterson regarding Mark Houser and his family members. This raises another important question. If Mark

Houser truly feels that Ken Peterson is danger to himself and to his family, why hasn’t he received a legitimate restraining order from the court system against Dr. Peterson? I believe I can tell you exactly why— Mark Houser doesn’t have two pieces of evidence to rub together to present to a judge. Ken Peterson has never threatened Mark Houser or his family in any way. This is another one of those stipulations thrown in to paint Dr. Peterson in an undesirable light in the hopes that if Peterson were ever to share this document, others would believe the lies. Another blatant example of this is stipulation 19 which reads:

“Dr. Peterson shall not violate any federal and/or state non-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (Title IX), which respectively prohibit racial and sexual discrimination in an educational program or activity. Nor shall Dr. Peterson violate any DSU Policy.”

Dr. Peterson has never been accused of this, nor has any evidence ever been presented that suggests he ever has acted in this way. Why would DSU put this stipulation in if not to slander Peterson’s good name should this document ever be seen? I surely can’t think of any other reason.

In the final stipulation the LCA states:

“...this Agreement shall be valid and binding from the date of its signing throughout the remainder of Dr. Peterson’s employment with DSU.”

I feel strongly this is the most damning piece of evidence to suggest that DSU is acting vindictively against Dr. Peterson. I’d like to use a thought experiment for a moment to prove this claim. Let’s imagine for a moment that Dixie State University truly wanted to uphold the Faculty Review Board’s and USHE’s decision and reinstate Ken Peterson. Let’s imagine that they truly feel he needs some terms and conditions that include removing him from his area of expertise. If this were true, why would those terms and conditions be permanent? Why reinstate someone who is good at their job and then never allow them to do that job again? Any university with their employee’s well-being in mind would surely have included some stipulations that outline a path to redemption. No such path is included. Rather, the phrase I included rings with a finality that can only leave one with a sense of foreboding. It may have well read, “this Agreement shall be valid and binding from the date of it’s signing until Dr. Peterson’s death.”

After reading this LCA, one can conclude only one of two options. The first option is Dr. Peterson is a crazed maniac who assaults fellow teachers, discriminates based on sexual orientation and gender, acts inappropriately with students, is a danger to the university and others, and can never be expected to improve (despite his peers suggesting DSU didn’t have enough evidence to uphold his termination). The second option is a person (or persons) at Dixie State University wrote this agreement solely to drag Dr. Peterson’s good name through the mud, and either enslave him to a life of never teaching the subject he loves, with the ability to fire him on any whim; or make a document so horrendous that no one in their right mind would sign it. Either way, DSU wins, and Ken Peterson and DSU music students lose.

Why would anyone do such a thing?

A petition with over 1,400 signatures can attest to the fact that Dr. Peterson is a good man who deserves his job. Meanwhile, DSU’s statement released on August 7th regarding the LCA is nothing but blaming someone else for writing the LCA, which has been proven as a lie. More than a thousand

people vouch for Ken— but DSU won’t even vouch for themselves.

In conclusion, the “Last Chance Agreement” is a vile document with rampant rights violations, libelous statements, and an obvious bias against Ken Peterson. I call for the LCA to be rescinded immediately, and for Dr. Ken Peterson to be truly “reinstated” to his previous tenured position. If you feel you cannot do this, I ask you to explain, in detail, why you believe Dr. Ken Peterson deserves to be treated like a common criminal when the original reasons for his termination can be chalked up to nothing but hearsay.

Please also answer the following questions:

  • What is DSU's definition of reinstatement? What exactly does reinstatement mean to DSU if not fully restored confidence?

  • Why would a university not be willing to negotiate to keep a professor who not only earned tenure, but never once in his teaching career underwent corrective action?

  • Why would a university not fight to keep a man who was recommended for reinstatement by a board of his peers, who are also respected tenured professors?

  • If Mark Houser truly feels that Ken Peterson is danger to himself and to his family, why hasn’t he received a legitimate restraining order from the court system against Dr. Peterson?

  • Why would DSU put unsubstantiated claims in this document if not to slander Peterson’s good name should this document ever be seen?

  • Why are the terms and conditions of the LCA permanent? Why reinstate someone who is good at their job and then never allow them to do that job again?

Lastly, would you personally sign that agreement were you in Dr. Peterson’s position? I very seriously doubt anyone would.

Respectfully,

Corinne McFerran
Full Disclosure DSU


Need to catch up on what's happening? Here's a video describing a bare-bones version of the timeline. More can be found on the "News" tab.

Timeline of Termination Events

Since the release of this video, Dr. Glenn Webb's and Dr. Ken Peterson's faculty review boards ruled in their favor, and recommended they be reinstated at DSU: 

"This is to notify you that the Faculty Review Board ("FRB") has made a Decision regarding your case. This FRB finds that DSU does not have just cause to terminate you and recommends that you be reinstated as a tenured professor of Music at DSU.
The FRB is now in the process of forwarding its recommendation to the representative of the Utah System of Higher Education who will make the final decision in your case."

As of August 6th, 2018, Ken Peterson does not have a job due to a "Last Chance Agreement" DSU required him to sign in order to return to his job. It violates many of his personal rights, and he has refused to sign it. Read the "Last Chance Agreement" here.

 

Dr. Webb and Dr. Peterson wouldn't remain silent over the unjust dismissal of fellow Dixie State Professor Varlo Davenport. They advocated for Davenport's reinstatement and even brought the issue to the attention of the State Auditor in 2016. This Spring, Dr. Webb and Dr. Peterson were abruptly fired and given almost identical mistreatment as Professor Davenport. Is there reason to believe the Dixie State Administration sought to silence Dr. Webb and Dr. Peterson for being whistleblowers? Please read the letter the two professors sent to the State Auditor in 2016 expressing and exploiting their frustrations with Davenport's termination: 


A letter from former DSU President Lee Caldwell


"As a former President of Dixie State University, I can no longer remain silent about issues of academic freedom and the treatment of tenured faculty members by the current University administration.  DSU has successfully recruited nationally competitive faculty members who then undergo a rigorous tenure review process which considers the quality of their teaching, intellectual contributions and service to the University, profession and community over an extended period of time.

The national norm, as suggested in a joint statement on shared governance jointly formulated in 1966 by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) states:

“Faculty status and related matters are primarily a faculty responsibility; this area includes appointments, reappointments, decisions not to reappoint, promotions, the granting of tenure, and dismissal.”

It appears that university attorneys and administrators have usurped this primary faculty responsibility in decisions related to the dismissal of tenured faculty members.  The Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings prepared by a joint committee representing the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities) and the American Association of University Professors and approved by these two associations at their annual meetings in 1958 further clarifies that investigations into faculty conduct should be initially conducted by the faculty and not university attorneys or administrators.

These procedures are designed to protect core principles of academic freedom.  They also prevent university administrations from embarrassment by using faculty members who are familiar with pedagogical practices and dialog in a particular discipline to conduct the initial reviews.  I should also note that academic freedom not only covers teaching and research but also dialogue concerning the governance of the institution. At every university I am familiar with, criticism of university administration seems to be among the most popular activities.

Now that we are in 2018, it is well past time for DSU to modernize its policies to reflect national norms articulated well more than 50 years ago.  The reported process faced by Drs. Petersen and Webb is so lacking in principles of fundamental fairness that it shocks to conscience of anyone involved in higher education for any period of time.  Their dismissal has been widely nationally reported and could easily attract the attention of AAUP committees. Censure by one or more of these committees would reflect poorly on DSU and on the entire Utah System of Higher Education.  It would also significantly impair DSU’s ability attract and retain high quality faculty members."
 

 

References:

Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities

This statement was jointly formulated by the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).

https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-procedural-standards-faculty-dismissal-proceedings

Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings

The following statement was prepared by a joint committee representing the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities) and the American Association of University Professors and was approved by these two associations at their annual meetings in 1958.

https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-procedural-standards-faculty-dismissal-proceedings