Update on Bennett Situation
January 31, 2019
TO: Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM: Chuck Staben, President and John Wiencek, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE: Jan. 31, 2019
SUBJECT: Update on Bennett Situation
On Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 the University of Idaho issued a Vandal Alert in response to concerns regarding the conduct of Denise Bennett. Ms. Bennett is a faculty member in the school of Journalism and Mass Media in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. She was placed on administrative leave Jan. 24, 2019.
The university’s alert contained specific information about Ms. Bennett which may have seemed an unusual level of detail for such a communication. Ms. Bennett’s public conduct in recent days and information we received from law enforcement raised concerns about the safety of our campus community. Knowledge that students would gather at noon in the Administration Building to protest the university’s actions and uncertainty around Ms. Bennett’s whereabouts or whether she would attend the protest increased the seriousness of these concerns to a level which gave rise to the alert. We believed the situation to be very serious and the information relevant and important to convey the reality of our concerns to the community.
As you all engage in your campus work and classroom responsibilities, your diligence and awareness of your surroundings are appreciated as we continue to address issues related to campus safety concerns and the administrative leave. Ms. Bennett remains banned from the Moscow campus. This will be enforced by law enforcement. If you see her on campus, please contact the Moscow Police Department at 911 or 208-882-7054.
In situations which cause concern for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, a diverse team of university experts comes together to assess the situation, share information and develop an action plan. This group makes a recommendation to the president who then decides which course of action the university will take. In this case, such a group met to thoughtfully consider how to manage this difficult situation, made the recommendation to the president that we communicate very specifically and directly to our university community and the president supported that recommendation.
The university will continue to attempt to engage with Ms. Bennett regarding her employment. This process will take time and is not subject to public disclosure by the university. In the meantime, her classes will continue to be taught by other faculty members in the college. Students enrolled in those classes should attend as usual.
Students with concerns regarding this matter may contact the Dean of Students Office at 208-885-6757. Faculty or staff with concerns should contact the Provost’s Office at 208-885-6448.
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu