Texas A&M Provost Says She Was Denied Due Process

July 21, 2017

Texas A&M University Provost Karan Watson says she was denied due process after she was removed from her position over an internal audit finding conflicts of interest stemming from her spouse’s business relationship with the university.

Watson was denied a meaningful opportunity to respond to allegations raised in the report, she said after news of the audit and her removal became public Wednesday. She issued a six-page response maintaining that she did not violate any university ethics principles and that the university’s audit contains incorrect and misleading allegations.

The audit said that since Karan Watson took over as provost seven years ago, her wife, Nancy Watson, was paid $438,733 by the university for training services. Nancy Watson’s business is the Center for Change and Conflict Resolution, a university vendor. The arrangement violated the A&M system’s ethics policy, according to the report.

Nancy Watson is also a part-time staff member in the university’s office of diversity and was recently named to a part-time faculty position.

Karan Watson’s response says that the audit confirms she did not misuse any university resources and that no evidence exists that she or Nancy Watson undermined competitive bidding. Karan Watson recused herself from matters involving her wife and disclosed their relationship on her annual disclosure form, it says.

“The report alleges that Dr. Karan Watson should have done more to mitigate an appearance of conflict,” the response says. “However, TAMU policy does not require ‘more’ and it is unclear what ‘more’ Dr. Watson should have done beyond disclosing her relationship and recusing herself from all matters associated with Dr. Nancy Watson or the center.”

Karan Watson has not decided if she will pursue any action against the university, she said in an email.

She had already announced her retirement but had planned to remain in her position until her replacement’s arrival. She will remain on A&M’s faculty.

The Watsons have been in a relationship for 32 years and were married in California in 2008.

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