Community takes in news of UW-Whitewater chancellor’s resignation

Community takes in news of UW-Whitewater chancellor’s resignation

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is in need of a new leader after Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced she’ll be resigning Dec. 31.

The announcement follows sexual harassment investigations into her husband, Pete Hill, who was banned from campus in June.

In Kopper’s announcement Monday morning, she thanks students, saying it’s been an honor and a privilege being chancellor.

“I am so proud of each of you and your amazing work and accomplishments,” Kopper wrote. “I will forever have a place in my heart that you have touched that is Warhawk purple.”

She doesn’t specifically say why she’s leaving, but the decision does follow calls for her resignation from elected officials, including the Whitewater Common Council member Stephanie Vander Pas, who is accusing Hill of sexual harassment.

#BREAKING — UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper resigns after three years in the position. This follows her husband being banned from campus in September after a sexual harassment investigation. @WISCTV_News3

— Madalyn O’Neill (@news3madalyn) December 17, 2018

“It’s obviously a hard day. I think it’s a hard day for a lot of people across the university, too,” said Tom Kind, student body president.

Kind heard the resignation news straight from Kopper this morning.

“I know this probably wasn’t the number one thing she would have preferred,” he said. “I suppose it was very hard to have something become such a conversation, especially at the beginning of a semester, and then not expect it will have something lasting as a result.”

Some students said they’re sad and shocked.

“She will be missed,” student Madison Szekely said. “I definitely liked having her as Chancellor. I thought she represented what our school should represent.”

“She shouldn’t have to resign. It was her husband, not her decision,” student Tony Kummer said. “No one wants her husband to do that stuff.”

Several students told News 3 they aren’t surprised.

“I kind of saw it all coming,” student Paul Hill said. “I think half the student population saw it coming.”

In Kopper’s official resignation, she wrote “I am aware that the Board of Regents would like different leadership.”

In response, board President Ray Cross thanked her for her service and accomplishments.

State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who’s called for Kopper’s resignation, wrote in a statement that this opens the door for positive change.

“The students, faculty, staff and alumni of UW-Whitewater can now focus on the future of this campus,” he wrote. “New leadership will provide for an opportunity to address the significant challenges facing this institution of higher learning.

“I understand the reason to resign and I understand that moving forward she is doing what I think is best for the university,” Kind said. “I think she’ll constantly be a supporter of initiatives we have.”

While Kind says it’s a hard day, he looks forward to the days ahead with a new chancellor.

“I’m excited to see what happens in our future, though, I really am,” he said.

The Associated Press reports Kopper will stay on as a professor at the university.

A Board of Regents spokesperson said they will name an interim chancellor as they begin the search for a new chancellor. That process will start early next year.

A statement from Vander Pas’s lawyer, Lisle Blackbourn, said in part, “The focus must be on making sure these women are given the help they need to cope with the adversity and pain that has been inflicted upon them.”

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