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Few answers about suspended professor at Chico State faculty meeting

Chico State faculty and staff members were given an update on campus security measures Tuesday, the second day of the spring semester, but many questions about the reason they were there — the case of suspended biology professor David Stachura — went unanswered.

Interim campus Provost Stephen Perez repeatedly declined to answer questions about Stachura, citing restrictions on discussing personnel matters.

“There are many things I can’t talk about,” he said. President Gayle Hutchinson did not attend the forum, which was both in person and online.

Most of the session concentrated on safety measures such as how to contact the campus police and report sexual misconduct.

EdSource reported on Dec. 8 that a  2020 university investigation found Stachura had a sexual affair with a graduate student he supervised and that his estranged wife alleged in court documents he’d threatened to kill two professors who cooperated in the affair investigation.

The university settled the affair investigation, giving Stachura a short suspension. He was later named Chico State’s “Outstanding Professor” of the 2020-2021 academic year and promoted to full professor. He was suspended again in August 2021 while the university conducted an assessment of the alleged threats. He was later allowed to resume teaching.

The revelations roiled the campus of 13,000 students in Butte County. Then Provost Debra Larson, who approved Stachura’s settlement, resigned. She is working as a consultant to Perez through May. Hutchinson and the school’s Academic Senate asked the California State University trustees to investigate how the Stachura matters were handled. The trustees have yet to announce a decision on the requests.

The Academic Senate also voted to ask the school to obtain a gun violence restraining order against Stachura. The university is continuing to weigh its legal options regarding the request, a spokesman said last week. Court records show no request for a restraining order has been filed.

Faculty attending the online and in-person safety session Tuesday expressed frustration at the lack of specifics.

“We already know how to report things,” said Troy Cline, a biology professor. He said the faculty has “a lack of trust” in the administration regarding how the Stachura case has been handled.

Perez asked for patience. “I am going to ask you to watch,” he said.

A similar session for students is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Perez is the spouse of Tanya Perez, coordinator of EdSource’s California Student Journalism Corps. She has no involvement in Chico State coverage.