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Dear Colleagues:

As a leader of this university and as former dean and faculty member of the Chase College of Law, I care deeply about our law school, our students, our staff and faculty, and the community we serve. 

In recent days there has been a significant amount of misinformation and rumor spreading among our community and the local media regarding Jeffrey Standen’s departure from the law school deanship and his remaining at the university in his tenured faculty status.

Of course, it is not our practice, nor that of most employers, to publicly discuss details about personnel matters, which clearly this was and is.  However, because the individual at issue here was a senior leader of the university, it is appropriate to address this matter more directly based on the public’s legitimate interest in the performance of a high-level official within a public agency.

With this in mind, I’d like to explain in straightforward terms all that I can about this personnel matter, not only from a substantive perspective, but also from a process perspective.

This all started when a concern about the dean's conduct in his office, described as possible sexual harassment, bullying, or abusive leadership, was reported to the Provost.  Based on this report, the Provost appropriately and immediately consulted with our Human Resources staff.  Our Director of Employee Relations and Equal Employment Opportunity immediately initiated an inquiry.  

Let me provide some details regarding this inquiry.  There were three individuals who were characterized as complainants during the course of our inquiry – one NKU employee and two former NKU student workers in the law school.

The NKU employee complainant was contacted and interviewed at the outset of this inquiry.  The two former student workers we later characterized as complainants did not interact directly with us from the outset.  The first contact with them was through an intermediary (a lawyer and law professor) directly to me during the course of the ongoing inquiry.  I advised the intermediary that if these individuals had information relevant to this inquiry, we needed them to come forward, and I recommended the intermediary have them contact our lead investigator in the Human Resources Office.  The intermediary contacted our lead investigator.  Following that contact, the intermediary arranged for the two former student workers to prepare detailed written and signed statements.  In addition, the intermediary also arranged on his own initiative for the NKU employee complainant that we interviewed earlier to provide a written and signed statement.  The intermediary delivered these three statements to our lead investigator.

It was made clear by the intermediary that these three individuals were very concerned about their privacy, and we respected that to the maximum extent possible while still obtaining detailed written and signed statements from them through their intermediary.

Because this matter now also involved student workers, our lead investigator reached out to the Senior Associate Dean of Students and Director of Conduct, Rights and Advocacy, so she could assist with the inquiry.  These two senior administrators are experienced in their roles as investigators and have between them extensive experience in both university and corporate environments. 

Also at this point, the Provost placed the dean on administrative leave to remove him from the office during the continuation of this investigation.  

As the investigation continued, in addition to considering the detailed statements from the complainants, the investigators interviewed another half-dozen witnesses who provided additional information.

During this investigation, the dean was provided an opportunity to learn of the complaints and to provide his response.  He denied many of the specific claims and admitted some actions, but characterized many of them much differently than the complainants.  

The two investigators completed their month-long investigation and submitted their report, including interview summaries and written statements from complainants and witnesses, to the dean’s supervisor, the Provost.

The Provost, after consulting with Human Resources and Legal Affairs, concluded that there was not sufficient evidence of sexual misconduct.  However, she concluded that there was sufficient evidence of an unhealthy culture of fear, intimidation, and bullying.  Based on the facts obtained during the investigation and the legal and personnel advice she received, her conclusions are fully supportable.  

Shortly after the Provost shared her conclusions regarding the inquiry with the dean, he tendered his resignation.  She accepted his resignation because it was in the best interest of the law school and the university in that it ensured that the dean would not return to his leadership role at the law school.  The conclusions reached by the Provost fully support this outcome. 

It is important to understand, however, that the dean held not only an appointment as dean, but also an appointment as a tenured professor of law.  Although the dean’s appointment may be terminated at the discretion of the Provost, that is not the case with the tenured faculty appointment.  The evidence from our inquiry was found not to rise to the level to support immediate termination of his employment as a tenured faculty member. Therefore, he has the opportunity to return for the fall semester in his faculty capacity. 

As you consider what information we have shared regarding this matter, understand that our practice in all personnel matters is to ensure our ability to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation and to protect privacy rights of people involved. 

Confidentiality is essential for a successful, unbiased investigation.  The privacy rights to be protected include those of persons who might be facing a personnel investigation or action, but also those of witnesses and complainants whose privacy protection is critical to encouraging people to come forward when wrongdoing is happening.  In this case, the pool of potential complainants was small, so we had to guard against release of information making it possible to identify who the complainants were.

In this regard, it is important that we recognize and appreciate the real fear of those coming forward as complainants or witnesses when matters like this are aired publicly and through the media.  We learned that the complainants were upset upon discovering that the media was examining this matter when they contacted us to plead that we preserve their privacy and not share any personal identifying information.  Our responses to the media’s open records requests were designed to do just that.  We sincerely trust that we have succeeded in doing so in the face of significant pressure to release more details.

As we and you reflect on how we managed this matter, I firmly believe and I would hope you would acknowledge that we took swift action to examine the concern brought to our attention.  That action included placing the dean on administrative leave from his leadership role during our investigation to preserve the integrity of the investigation.  And, it concluded with the dean not returning to that leadership role, an appropriate outcome based on the facts and circumstances of this investigation.

In closing, I’d like to turn to the basics of who we are and the values that we hold dear, specifically integrity and collegiality.  We should all, as colleagues at NKU, regardless of position or status, engage in honest, fair and ethical behavior, with integrity at the heart of every decision and action.  As some members of Chase community, including faculty, staff and administrators, so eloquently shared with our Chase students last Thursday, “we have an ethical responsibility to extend professional courtesy and civility to everyone, regardless of position or status.”

Finally, let me take this opportunity to remind you that should you feel that you need to talk to someone about any issues you may be faced with at NKU, or if you have information related to possible misconduct by NKU employees, please know that the university has resources available to everyone on campus to address these matters.  Only if each one of us comes forward when there are such matters to be addressed can we ensure the appropriate response by the university.  One such resource is the NKU Ethics and Compliance Hotline which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Reports can be made anonymously at 1-855-597-4539 or

Thank you for your continued hard work and support of our students, our law school, and our university.  



Gerard A. St. Amand
Interim President
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Phone: 859-572-5123
Fax: 859-572-6696