UI professor under investigation says he'll leave job at end of May

UI professor under investigation says he'll leave job at end of May

CHAMPAIGN — University of Illinois Professor Joe Petry, who was put on leave while the UI investigated "accusations regarding his conduct," announced Friday evening he is stepping down from his job at the end of May.

"It is with a deep sense of gratitude for many good years of teaching exceptional University of Illinois students that I announce my retirement from my position as Clinical Professor at the University, effective May 31, 2019," Petry said in a statement released by his attorney, John Thies of Urbana, in response to questions from The News-Gazette.

The statement confirmed that the decision is related to "certain allegations being raised against me and the University's investigation of these allegations, with which I have cooperated to every extent required."

The statement did not mention the nature of the allegations, and UI officials declined to provide specifics earlier this month in confirming the investigation, though they cited the "safety and security of students and employees."

"During the course of this investigation, I was on administrative leave and will remain in this status until my retirement date. I regret not being able to complete the semester with my final group of students, and am saddened that this resulted in their inconvenience," Petry's statement said.

"I feel strongly that, should the investigation of these allegations have continued, the University would have concluded that I did not violate the policies in question. Nonetheless, the process of confronting these allegations has taken its toll on my family and me. Accordingly, I have entered a binding agreement with the University under which the University has agreed to end this investigation in exchange for my resignation."

But the UI issued a statement Friday night, saying the investigation is "ongoing."

"Mr. Petry is on administrative leave while we investigate accusations regarding his conduct. It is our practice to not comment specifically on personnel matters," UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said in an email. "However, the safety and security of students and employees is our top priority, and we work hard to ensure that. When we receive accusations involving an employee, we investigate and act to prevent future behavior of any type that could harm our students."

She declined to answer more specific questions about the investigation or any agreement with Petry.

Thies insisted that "there is a fully executed agreement between Professor Petry and the University."

"You will have to ask the University about whether it plans to comply with its obligations under this agreement," he said in an email.

Petry, a one-time Champaign mayoral candidate who has taught at the UI since 2001, was assigned two courses this spring, a 100-level macroeconomics class and a 200-level economic statistics class. But since early February, they have been taught by a lead TA and another professor, according to the UI.

His absence has prompted intense speculation from students on social media.

Petry also resigned from Champaign's Historical Preservation Commission earlier this month, according to the city.

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