Dr. Myron Faircloth, an upstanding and long-serving Assistant Professor of Nursing with raving reviews from students past and present, has resigned from Valdosta State University effective December 15.
The news came as a shock, and a disappointment, to the Lowndes County community as Dr. Faircloth has been an integral part of the community for over 40 years, but he cited ‘harassment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation” as his cause for departure. Now, the long dispute stemming from concerns by Faircloth could be resolved in court.
AllOnGeorgia obtained a copy of the resignation letter which totaled a whopping 19 pages of details of events dating back two years which include requests for use of political influence, maintenance of secret shadow files, altered official documents, evaluations outside of university policy, and much more.
Faircloth has since filed complaints with the Office of Social Equity at VSU, the Board of Regents, and the state and federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC). Faircloth claims the events, as they unfolded, have damaged his career and been detrimental to the reputation he spent decades building.
Valdosta State has refused to comment on the issue publicly since the Open Records inquiries earlier this year. AllOnGeorgia reported in February that the university presented a $7,000 bill, plus the cost for copies, for Faircloth to obtain records pertaining to his own personnel file. The university claimed records on Faircloth needed to be redacted. Ultimately, after public outcry and a series of negative articles in the press about the costs, Faircloth modified his request and the university provided the documents at no charge.
In the open records request, the university revealed shadow file recordkeeping, libelous statements against Faircloth disseminated, and provided ‘modified’ documents, but the story goes back much farther than the open records dispute earlier this year.
In his resignation letter, Faircloth says much of the retaliation stems from his refusal to comply with the request by an administrator at VSU to use his political influence to challenge a state nursing board decision made by Secretary of State Brian Kemp – a decision that directly affected the university. He was also asked, at one point, to use the same connections to have a former Provost removed from their position. Faircloth is well-connected politically, having served as an integral part of former Attorney General Sam Olens’ statewide campaign and serves on a number of boards, including the State Bar of Georgia (as a citizen member) and the state Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits. He also served on the Lowndes County Board of Health, though he recently resigned from that position in light of what transpired at VSU.
Faircloth says he tried to handle the situation internally, but his complaints were never taken seriously, they were reviewed by persons with a conflict of interest, false documents were created, private email servers were used to disseminate ‘negative’ information to 13 colleagues, and university officials never contacted witnesses Faircloth cited in his complaints – despite repeated requests. When his complaints were made to the Office of Social Equity, Faircloth was repeatedly assured that there would be no harassment or retaliation and he would be protected. “They failed me,” he told AllOnGeorgia last week.
In his resignation letter, Faircloth cites 93 bullet points detailing explanations and events leading to his ultimate departure, some of which include:
- Refusal by superior faculty to meet with Faircloth about retaliation and harassment in the workplace by other administrators.
- Assignment to the same class sections as other professors, but with more than double the students, which led to the denial of Faircloth’s request for assistance in teaching nursing students in hands-on practicums.
- Demands for Faircloth to work under a ‘mentor’ and develop a plan for ‘improvement for teaching effectiveness’ due to four anonymous student complaints from ‘RateMyProfessor.com’, despite receiving high scores on his official ‘Student Opinion of Instructor Ratings.’.
- The demand for the mentorship/plan for improvement was made by one of the administrators involved in the request for use of political influence.
- Instructions by superiors to ‘stop making everything about policy’ when Faircloth tried to justify his actions
- A breach of Faircloth’s confidential and private personnel records in violation of Board of Regents and University policy.
After almost two years of uncertainty and what Faircloth calls harassment, he received an unsatisfactory evaluation after years of satisfactory, or better, reviews by students, faculty, and administrators. The unsatisfactory score was based on information outside the university evaluation policy and procedure. Faircloth says that former students have contacted him to inform him that other administrators encouraged them to give Faircloth unsatisfactory evaluations at the end of the semester, despite their feeling otherwise. One plans to go on the record with the account going forward.
Earlier this year, he was given a ‘non-contract renewal,’ or termination, which has already caused great difficulty for Faircloth in seeking other employment and should he seek employment at another higher education institution. The termination was issued during the active EEOC and social equity investigations, which are still ongoing.
Faircloth told AllOnGeorgia that his legal counsel, the Board of Regents and Valdosta State, both of which are named in the lawsuit, previously agreed to mediation, but after Faircloth selected an attorney from the list provided by the BOR, the deadline set for mediation was missed. Faircloth and his attorney plan to take the case to litigation and Faircloth will press on with the EEOC complaints.
The situation at VSU has disrupted Dr. Faircloth’s life tremendously, so much so that Faircloth has moved to Florida and will start over after concluding his work at VSU. His patients in his private medical practice have been harassed and he fears the controversy will have a negative impact on the local police force where he serves as a Lieutenant. Medically, it has caused him great stress that has required his own doctor to briefly prescribe him time away from work. As for his colleagues in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, they no longer speak to him.
This article is No. 1 of a forthcoming series on the evidence pertaining to the events and timeline detailed above. Names of faculty and administrators at Valdosta State University, which are all stipulated in the full resignation letter, have been withheld from this article at the request of Dr. Faircloth. Check back to AllOnGeorgia.com for updates as the story unfolds.