Dixie State Professor Rejects Reinstatement Terms

August 8, 2018

Ken Peterson, a professor of music at Dixie State University who was terminated earlier this year for alleged violations of university confidentiality policies, will not be taking Dixie State up on its reinstatement offer. Peterson announced this week that he’d rejected what the university called his “Last Chance Agreement” and posted it to Facebook. It includes such vague but binding language as saying Peterson will “cease unprofessional behaviors, many of which affect [Dixie State]’s operations and services and are to the detriment of his fellow faculty, the staff, and, most regrettably, the students in their efforts to achieve their educational goals.” The agreement also says he would be assigned a 12-credit teaching load of general education courses and a six-credit service load annually. He's also be prohibited from offering or recruiting students for private or digital lessons on university property or during university events.

Peterson and another professor of music, Glenn Webb, were terminated earlier this year for allegedly discussing the tenure bid of a colleague in their department. The university accused the two professors of serious violations of university ethics rules, but their many supporters said their alleged indiscretion hardly merited dismissal. Peterson said Tuesday that he specializes in teaching singing, and that if Dixie State won’t let him do what he’s “loved and prepared for for most of my life, I would rather do it elsewhere.” The “ambiguity and subjectivity” of the agreement’s remaining language “leaves me completely vulnerable,” he added. “I will have a gun with a hair trigger pointed at my head for the rest of my career [there]. Who in their right mind could ever agree to such conditions?”

Dixie State said in a statement that a faculty review board recommended that Peterson be reinstated with a warning, and that recommendation was forwarded to an independent reviewer. Elizabeth Hitch, associate commissioner for academic and student affairs for the Utah State Board of Regents, completed the review, and the agreement terms were based upon Hitch’s “independent determination that Peterson’s actions violated [Dixie State] policy.”

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