October 29, 2011 in City

UI faculty response both emotional and mundane

Associated Press photo

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis speaks Wednesday at a news conference announcing the release of Ernesto Bustamante’s personnel records.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE – The minutes, hours and days following August’s murder-suicide at the University of Idaho included recriminations over a botched public relations campaign – and faculty concerns that the school hadn’t done enough to stop the tragedy. Eventually, however, there was a return to academic life’s banalities: The killer’s former colleagues began wondering what would become of his old office.

The killings unleashed a storm of emotions among faculty and administrators, illustrated by documents obtained on Thursday.

“I am appalled at how the UI is handling the PR for the horrible loss of a student,” wrote Mark Secrist, a professor who teaches public relations, in an email to university leaders. “If we handle it this way, the family will probably not sue us and the story will go away relatively quickly. If we continue handling it the way we are, it will stay for years and we will lose millions of dollars.”

“In a faculty meeting we briefly discussed using Ernie’s office as overflow space for graduate students this year,” assistant professor Benjamin Barton wrote Aug. 29.

Associated Press

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