Chico State President Apologies for Handling Professor’s Affair and Alleged Violent Threats

Source: CSU

Gayle Hutchinson

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On the eve of a special session of the Academic Senate on campus safety, Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon, condemning the campus for its government’s handling of biology professor David Stachura’s sexual affair with a graduate students and his alleged threats to shoot two professors who were helping to investigate him.

While the Academic Senate announced the special session for Wednesday noon, no agenda was released as of 4:30 p.m. Professors tweeted throughout the day that a vote of no confidence in Hutchinson and campus provost Debra Larson will be attempted at the meeting.

Hutchinson’s statement came the day after a campus-wide meeting Monday, which she described as “heartbreaking” and at which she was widely criticized for handling the Stachura affair. A biology professor said at the meeting that Stachura spoke to her about guns, hollow-point bullets, and a mass shooting. Separately, his wife wrote to a Superior Court judge last year that Stachura said he wanted to kill the two professors.

In her strongest statement since EdSource reported on Stachura last week, Hutchinson said, “New information has been uncovered (Monday). We will track and investigate threats to staff and students. This is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated.” The statement, entitled “Reflections on Yesterday’s Open Forum,” was distributed across campus via email. EdSource received a copy.

Hutchinson, who announced her retirement at the end of the academic year on Oct. 11, declined EdSource’s interview request. When Hutchinson was elected president in 2016, she became the first female president of Chico State in its 135-year history and the first openly gay president of the California State University system.

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Stachura, who is suspended for 60 days, has been denied access to the university’s systems and banned from campus, she said. He “no longer has access to the physical addresses and phone numbers of students and staff.” Another professor will grade his lectures.

Professor Lindsay Briggs of the Department of Public Health & Health Services Administration was among those taking to social media on Tuesday to support a vote of no confidence.

“Our campuses and colleges are angry,” she said in a phone interview. “Everyone is deeply shocked. People are angrier than I’ve ever seen in my 11 years at Chico State.”

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