A state senator Tuesday called on UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper to resign, and the UW System said it has opened a new investigation into sexual harassment allegations against her husband.
Sen. Steve Nass, R-La Grange, described the situation at UW-Whitewater as “intolerable” after news broke Friday that Kopper’s husband, Alan “Pete” Hill, had been banned from campus as of this summer based on an investigation of multiple claims of sexual harassment.
“UW-Whitewater faces some very serious challenges in healing from the Hill allegations, with enrollment and developing a sustainable plan for its mission moving forward,” Nass said Tuesday in a news release. “At this moment in time, I can see no positive future for UW-Whitewater under the leadership of Chancellor Kopper.”
Nass, who is vice chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges, has criticized Kopper before. But he is not the first public official to call for her resignation.
In a Sunday Facebook post, Whitewater City Council member Stephanie (Goettl) Vander Pas shared her own story involving inappropriate comments and touching from Hill. In the post on her now-deleted Facebook page, Vander Pas said Kopper should have known about her husband’s conduct and should resign.
In his statement, Nass said that on at least two occasions he told Cross about “issues regarding the management style of the chancellor and the negative sentiments this style has caused with faculty, staff, students, community members and alums.”
After The Gazette reported that Vander Pas had called on Kopper to resign, UW-Whitewater spokeswoman Sara Kuhl emailed a statement, saying Kopper “remains deeply committed to serving campus and continuing the work of our university to provide our students with an education that is truly transformational and to make a difference in our communities, the state, nation and the world.”
Kuhl did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Hill has denied the harassment allegations, according to documents obtained earlier by The Gazette.
Also Tuesday, the UW System confirmed that it has opened a new investigation into Hill’s conduct.
“Given the University of Wisconsin System’s unwavering commitment to provide a safe educational and work environment, we are opening a new investigation into the most recent allegations related to UW-Whitewater,” Heather LaRoi, a UW System spokeswoman, said in an email.
Vander Pas said she was not one of the women who spoke to the investigators who determined that Hill had harassed female employees.
She said she long had looked up to Kopper, even as an undergraduate student in Whitewater.
“I really admired her,” she told The Gazette on Monday. “I wanted to be like her. I really had a lot of respect for her.”
Still, Vander Pas said Kopper should resign.
“I really just think in order for the university to return to its core mission, that it needs to be under someone else’s leadership,” she said.