The University of New Mexico today has received new information that has led to an emergency suspension of Cristobal Valencia, assistant professor in the department of anthropology.
Effective immediately, Valencia is suspended from all academic duties associated with his faculty appointment, including teaching, research and service. The suspension will remain in place while the new complaints are investigated by the appropriate authorities, or until the case is resolved.
His suspension is an emergency short-term action taken as a precaution to prevent any risk of harm to others, and was based upon the seriousness of the allegations. However, it is important to note that no additional action will be taken unless the investigators can confirm the new allegations.
Valencia had been scheduled to teach two classes this fall semester, one at the undergraduate level and another at the graduate level. He would have returned to the classroom under a censure and close monitoring of his behavior following a previous OEO investigation from complaints in June 2015. A redacted version of that report has been released by the University to the media.
OEO’s role is to review and make findings regarding alleged civil rights violations. Then administrators and supervisors must determine what discipline and remediation measures are fair and effective. Discipline may involve suspending or firing an offender, but does not require it. The goal is to prevent future misconduct.
In this case, the censure and monitoring discipline from the earlier OEO investigation is being appealed and is not final. With these new reports and additional information, a new investigation is being opened.
The new emergency suspension in this case is guided by the University’s policies outlined in the Faculty Handbook. An earlier emergency suspension was put in place as a precaution in March 2016, following the OEO findings. It was intended as a temporary measure until a formal discipline could be taken. This process is detailed in UNM’s Faculty Handbook, under Section 5.5 Suspension.
After reviewing the March 2016 OEO findings, the Anthropology Chair determined that censure and monitoring was the appropriate discipline, and the first emergency suspension was lifted in June. The policy that governs censure is C07: Faculty Disciplinary Policy.
A censure creates a formal written record of the faculty member’s violation of policy, which is permanently entered into the personnel file. A censure typically also lists requirements the faculty member must meet in order not to face further discipline. The intent of the discipline is to give the faculty member an opportunity to improve unless there is no option but to seek dismissal.
During this new precautionary emergency suspension, UNM will be continuing with its actions to help the faculty and students in the Anthropology department restore the climate to one that is healthy and supportive. As announced previously, a number of resources will be available including counsellors and advisors for the students, dispute resolution facilitators for the faculty, and mentors for the department administrators.
Undergraduate students with concerns are asked to contact the Dean of Students office. Graduate students with concerns are asked to contact the Special Assistant to the Dean of Arts and Sciences.