Steingass Report review and actions taken by UW System, UW-Madison

Sept. 22, 2005

TO: Media Representatives
FROM: UW System President Kevin P. Reilly, UW-Madison Provost Peter D. Spear
SUBJECT: Steingass Report Review and Actions Taken

Since November 2004, UW-Madison has been involved in a protracted and painful personnel matter that has been difficult on the individuals, the university and UW System.

Before we address the substantive nature of the report submitted, we want to thank Attorney Susan Steingass for her professional attention to this matter and for her thoughtful presentation of the facts of the investigation.

We have reviewed the report, accepted the conclusions as presented, and have based our decisions upon those conclusions.

In accordance with state law, we have notified all individuals whose names appear in the Steingass Report, have followed all university rules regarding procedures in investigation and disciplinary matters, and have filled the pending public records requests that had been withheld during the investigation process. Dr. Barrows and his attorney received an unredacted copy of the Steingass Report on Sept. 6. Provost Spear followed up on the investigation, including meeting with Dr. Barrows and his attorney on Sept. 8 (investigatory meeting) and on Sept. 16 (predisciplinary meeting). Provost Spear consulted with university legal counsel and human resources personnel to ensure that due process was followed and outcomes were appropriate.

A summary of the decisions, including key findings and actions, is outlined below:

Conclusions as they relate to Dr. Barrows

  • Provost Spear concurs with the report's conclusion that Dr. Barrows' conduct toward one individual "could reasonably be regarded as unprofessional" and that, if part of a pattern, "could reasonably be seen as violative of the university's sexual harassment policies and rules." Provost Spear also accepts the report's conclusion that Dr. Barrows' conduct toward a second individual, "no matter how intended, would be received by a reasonable person as sexual harassment."

Actions taken

In making his determination as to the appropriate response to Dr. Barrows' actions, Provost Spear took into account the nature of the behavior, Dr. Barrows' nearly 17 years of distinguished service to UW-Madison, and the fact that no other complaints had been made against him in that time. Provost Spear determined that there are insufficient grounds for dismissing Dr. Barrows from the university at this time. However, based on these considerations and the above conclusions, the following formal actions have been taken.

Provost Spear reaffirms the following employment actions regarding Dr. Barrows:

  • Dr. Barrows was removed from his vice chancellor position; annual salary of $191,749.
  • The university withdrew an offer to Dr. Barrows of a consultant position; annual salary of $150,000.
  • Dr. Barrows was placed in a contractually required backup position; annual salary of $72,881.
  • A formal letter of reprimand has been sent to Dr. Barrows and placed in his personnel file indicating that future conduct of this sort will result in dismissal.
  • Dr. Barrows will be required to undergo sexual harassment training by Dec. 31, 2005, because his behavior reflects a lack of understanding of policy and the impact of his actions.
  • Provost Spear has instructed staff to replace 92 hours of sick leave, used by Dr. Barrows in March 2005, with 92 hours of floating holiday/Annual Leave Reserve Account (the amount Dr. Barrows had available at the time).

Conclusions as they relate to Chancellor Wiley

  • The report indicates that Chancellor Wiley allowed Dr. Barrows to inappropriately use sick leave from March 2005 to mid-June 2005. In the report, Chancellor Wiley appropriately takes responsibility for not following up soon enough with Dr. Barrows for medical confirmation of Dr. Barrows' continued need to use sick leave.
  • As a result of the report, President Reilly concludes that, after Dr. Barrows had resigned from his Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs position and the position had been abolished, Chancellor Wiley took an inordinate amount of time to place him in his backup appointment, continuing to pay him while on leave at his Vice Chancellor salary of $191,749.

Actions taken

In making his determination as to the appropriate response to Chancellor Wiley's actions, President Reilly considered Chancellor Wiley's handling of this personnel matter within the context of his overall performance. Chancellor Wiley has spent more than 30 years at UW-Madison as an outstanding faculty member and administrator. Since 2001, he has done an exemplary job of overseeing a campus of more than 40,000 students and 16,000 employees, and an annual budget of nearly $2 billion. He has demonstrated consistent and strong leadership in challenging times.

  • President Reilly has sent Chancellor Wiley a letter criticizing his application of leave policy in this case and directing him to take corrective measures to prevent such problems in the future.
  • President Reilly has directed Chancellor Wiley to report back to him on these corrective measures by Oct. 21, 2005.