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Friday, September 22, 2023

As additional women are revealed in the investigation documents, former UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper’s husband could have harassed additional women, which proved to be a “blind spot” for Kopper while in leadership, investigators said.

Investigators call former UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s husband allegations a 'blind spot'

The husband of former UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper sexually harassed at least seven and potentially up to 10 female students or employees at the university, a UW System investigation found

The investigation revealed her husband, Alan “Pete” Hill’s, behavior toward women to be “pervasive and well-known,” leading university employees to take “steps to protect one another” from him, the report read. 

However, there was no official evidence Kopper knew of Hill’s behavior, but she also did not question Hill before the harassment allegations became public. 

"At best, this suggests that Hill's behavior was a blind spot for the Chancellor," investigators said.

When speaking with investigators, Kopper said she was “very upset” upon learning of the allegations, but withdrew from discussion due to her position and Hill’s communication with a lawyer. 

"I married him for his heart," she said. "There are so many things that I know ... it doesn't compute."

Hill was banned from campus after a previous investigation concluded he sexually harassed female employees at UW-Whitewater. UW System President Ray Cross restricted Hill from attending campus events and stripped him of his honorary position as Associate of the Chancellor in a letter dated June 2018. 

The most recent investigation that completed on Jan. 1 looked into the response to sexual harassment allegations against Hill, and the UW System released the results Friday. 

The women who came forward said Hill touched them in an “unprofessional” and “unwanted” way, and that he made statements “laden with sexual innuendo.” 

The investigators found “credible evidence” that Hill sexually harassed students and employees, adding that the harassment occurred on campus or during campus-related events — some of which took place in the chancellor’s residence. 

They also revealed Kopper took 84 days to tell her cabinet and nearly three weeks to respond to a letter from Cross about Hill’s from campus. 

The interview also disclosed that she did not know if Hill had completed sexual harassment awareness training that was recommended from a 2017 investigation into harassment claims or as an expected requirement in 2018. 

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She also "took no steps to inform herself about the allegation, other than to be satisfied with Hill's denial of the allegations" and believed each allegation to be due to resentment against her and Hill. 

Lastly, she did not discuss the claims with her husband because of his own representation and that she was “wearing the Chancellor’s hat.”

Kopper feels the repercussions

As public pressure calling for Kopper’s resignation mounted, she ended her time as UW-Whitewater’s chancellor with a campus-wide email announcing her departure, effective Dec. 31, 2018. 

Cross approved an exit agreement with the UW System that granted her payment of more than 75 percent than the average psychology faculty member, much to the chagrin of Senator Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who called it a “scam.” 

“This is an insult to the students, faculty and taxpayers can’t be allowed to stand,” he said after seeing the agreement. 

As of next fall, Kopper will be paid a salary of $118,308. This is around 38 percent more than the largest current salary in the department. 

Until she starts her new position as a psychology professor, Kopper will be on paid leave with a stipend of $242,760 until the end of August. This, along with her nine-month salary, was revealed Dec. 17, the same day Kopper announced her resignation.

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