CHAMPAIGN — A UI economics professor and one-time Champaign mayoral candidate has been placed on administrative leave while the university investigates "accusations regarding his conduct," a campus official told News-Gazette Media.
UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler declined to divulge the nature of the investigation into Joe Petry’s actions, citing the campus’ practice of not commenting specifically on personnel matters.
"However," Kaler said, "the safety and security of students and employees is our top priority and we work hard to ensure that."
In a statement texted to News-Gazette Media Thursday afternoon, Petry acknowledged the probe, saying: "I can confirm that I have been on administrative leave during the pendency of a University investigation. I have cooperated with this investigation to every extent required."
Kaler confirmed that Petry, who has taught at the UI since 2001, is not currently teaching two courses he had started with this semester — a 100-level macroeconomics class and a 200-level economic statistics class. They are now being taught by a lead TA and another professor, she said.
Petry has not been at his Economics 103 class since at least mid-February, according to online posts by students on a classroom bulletin board, which were shared with News-Gazette Media.
Off campus, Petry spent 12 years on the Champaign Park District’s board of directors and was serving as its president when he announced a run for Champaign mayor in 2014.
In 2015, he finished third in a four-way race for mayor, picking up 18.52 percent of the vote to fall behind Deb Feinen (40.98 percent) and then-incumbent Don Gerard (31.34 percent).