That was an interesting day on Friday!
I was driving eight hours back to Ohio from Connecticut so I could testify on Monday (but also so I could attend a family Easter gathering ) while Dr. William Cummins was being cross-examined. Once the cross-examination was over, Judge Ronald P. Forsthoefel dismissed the jurors for the Easter weekend, but told the lawyers to stick around.
Then, around 5:15 p.m., about 10 minutes after I arrived in Wooster, I received a text message from Leslie Murray, the lawyer for the faculty. A settlement had been reached. She said it was a good settlement. I didn’t mind the drive at all. I was happy the faculty got an offer they thought was worth signing.
Neither of these stories give details regarding the settlement because there is a confidentiality agreement tied to it. That’s also often called a non-disclosure agreement.
What we all want to know, of course, is how much money each of the faculty members in the lawsuit received. My guess is it was a nice, large number. I say that because it was no doubt not the first offer they received. Ashland University’s modus operandi, when it is sued, is to offer up some cash to make the case go away.
AU did that 2016 when Edwin Stockwell, a former Information Technologies employee, sued the university after he was laid off, claiming age discrimination and nepotism. And they did that just last year (2018) when a female student filed a Title IX violation lawsuit against AU tied to a sexual assault that occurred on campus, and the university’s lackluster response.
Both of those cases were filed in federal court, and then later settled before they ever reached trial.
The university probably made many offers to the faculty since this suit was filed in January 2017, but the faculty kept pushing forward. I’m glad they did. It forced President Carlos Campo and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to give depositions that then became public record. And the fired faculty gave depositions as well, shining a light on just how poorly managed Ashland University was during all of this, and how much it wrecked the lives of people who had made AU students their No. 1 priority for a very long time, people who had nothing to do with the poor financial standing of the university, but paid the price anyway.
I hope that whatever settlement those faculty received makes them whole. I also hope that the amount of money is big enough that the Board of Trustees and university administrators remember it for a very long time.