The former UW-Whitewater chancellor who resigned from her position last winter and was scheduled to teach this fall is on paid leave, but officials aren’t saying why.
Beverly Kopper resigned Dec. 31 after allegations of her husband’s sexual harassment surfaced last fall. The University of Wisconsin System agreed to pay Kopper at her chancellor’s salary over an eight-month period this year — about $162,000 — as she prepared to return to a full teaching schedule this semester at a reduced salary.
UW-Whitewater spokesman Jeff Angileri and UW System spokesman Mark Pitsch declined to describe the circumstances of Kopper’s leave or when it began, saying only that a leave had been “granted” and that it was a personnel matter.
Angileri said she is using earned benefit time to draw from her annual $118,308 faculty salary, not the $242,760 chancellor’s salary she was earning through August. He confirmed that the four classes Kopper was assigned to teach this semester have been reassigned to other faculty members.
Calls and emails Tuesday and Wednesday to Kopper’s attorney, Ray Cotton, were not returned. An email to Kopper’s university email address Wednesday was not returned.
Kopper is listed on the psychology department’s faculty directory, but her profile page lacks a phone number and office number, which most other professors have included on theirs.
Kopper’s name was missing from courses during registration last spring, but Angileri at the time said in response to questions from the State Journal that it was not unusual. Instructor names are added throughout the year as students enroll and course sections open up, he said.
Kopper wrote in a January memo to System president Ray Cross that she planned to spend her eight-month leave creating class syllabi, developing assignments and learning relevant classroom technologies. She noted that it had been more than a decade since she had taught in a classroom.
State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, one of the UW System’s most vocal critics, called Kopper’s paid leave a “taxpayer-funded scam” in December. His chief of staff, Mike Mikalsen, said Wednesday that the senator’s prediction — that the agreement was some sort of “non-settlement settlement” for a high-profile administrator under fire — proved to be true.
“Taxpayers and students paying tuition are left paying for someone to do nothing for a potentially long period of time,” he said.
Kopper’s husband, Alan “Pete” Hill, was banned from campus in the summer of 2018 after a UW System investigation found “merit” to allegations that he sexually harassed female employees.
System officials opened another investigation after additional women came forward. A report by investigators hired by the System found Hill harassed at least seven, and possibly up to 10, UW-Whitewater students or employees, but found “no direct evidence” that Kopper knew of Hill’s behavior toward women.
Cotton largely disputed the report’s findings, saying it was “rampant with speculation.”