The University of Maine recently announced that senior theater professor Tom Mikotowicz had been cleared after an investigation by the campus’ Office of Equal Opportunity. He had been placed on paid administrative leave last December following “a number of emails from students alleging confidential concerns about him,” a UMaine spokesperson said. He will return to work this fall.

Not long after Professor Mikotowicz’s paid leave, the Maine media reported that Tony Brinkley, another senior professor – of English – also had been placed on paid administrative leave, with a similar silence about the allegations. Nothing more was revealed until July 9, when it was announced that he had also been cleared and allowed to return to work this fall.

I know both professors but know absolutely nothing about these allegations against them. And that is surely the appropriate way to proceed in the name of confidentiality and professionalism.

But the question remains: How were these professors’ names obtained by the Maine press? Who was responsible for these separate newspaper stories, including photos? Maybe the Maine press sought Freedom of Information Act disclosures, but that seems unlikely.

This brings us to the sad story of Raymond Donovan, secretary of labor under President Reagan. Experts gave Donovan high marks for various administrative reforms. But he and six others were indicted by a grand jury for larceny and fraud regarding the construction of a new extension for the New York City subway. Donovan protested his innocence but resigned his Cabinet position. Eventually, all defendants were acquitted of all charges, after which Donovan famously asked, “Which office do I go to, to get my reputation back?”

Surely the same question might be raised by professors Brinkley and Mikotowicz. For despite their having been cleared, there will now be permanent blots on their respective reputations. It is curious – and dismaying – that the University of Maine System couldn’t protect these professors’ good names.

Howard Segal

history professor, University of Maine


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