November 17, 2018
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UMaine theater professor placed on leave for second time this year

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
People walk around on the University of Maine campus in Orono. Gabor Degre | BDN

A second University of Maine professor who was placed on leave during the winter and spring after multiple students complained about his conduct will not be teaching for at least part of the fall semester, a university official said.

Tom Mikotowicz, who teaches theater at UMaine, returned to teaching this summer and was included on the fall semester class roster as recently as last week. But his status was reversed Sept. 1, when he was again placed on paid leave three days before the start of the fall semester.

Margaret Nagle, the university spokeswoman, cited an ongoing human resources department process — a continuation of the Office of Equal Opportunity investigation that cleared Mikotowicz earlier this spring — as the reason why.

Mikotowicz was placed on paid leave in December after the university received “a number of emails from students alleging confidential concerns about him,” Nagle said at the time. The university never disclosed the extent of those concerns, citing state and federal privacy laws.

“As of Sept. 1, Professor Mikotowicz also is on paid administrative leave while the human resources processes continue,” Nagle said Tuesday, adding that the duration of his leave is “not known at this time.”

As a result, one of Mikotowicz’s classes was canceled and two others were reassigned to other instructors, Nagle said.

Mikotowicz did not return a call or email seeking comment.

Along with English professor Tony Brinkley, who was placed on leave in January after two female graduate students filed sexual harassment complaints, the two are the only faculty on paid leave that university officials will confirm. Both were on paid leave last semester while the equal opportunity office investigated the respective student complaints. Their cases were closed and forwarded to human resources for further review. Those investigations are still ongoing, but university officials confirmed in early summer that Brinkley and Mikotowicz would return to teaching.

Brinkley was again placed on paid leave earlier this summer and will not teach this semester.

University officials will not explain why their statuses were reversed, and they have repeatedly declined to release further information about either case.

Mikotowicz, who teaches directing, playwriting, history and performance theory at the university earned $83,756 in 2017.

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