Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA completes investigation on Anita Moss


UTSA has concluded its investigation concerning Professor Anita Moss’ classroom management with recommendations that Moss, who teaches human anatomy and physiology, may be more suitable to develop laboratory courses outside of the classroom and pursue online teaching.

According to the report, “By May 1, 2019, the department chair and dean should determine whether or not Dr. Moss will continue as a lecturer in the classroom in future semesters based upon their assessment and programmatic needs of the university.”In an email to the Paisano, Moss expressed her thoughts on the investigation.

“I feel great relief that the investigation begun on January 20, 2019, has been concluded. I am hopeful that my spirit, which has been considerably diminished by the events of the past months, will recover,” Moss said. “I am also immensely grateful for the support I have received from my students.”

Over 900 people have signed the online petition that Moss’ students started after she was removed from her teaching responsibilities in January.

Dr. Heather Shipley, senior vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the university college, sent a memorandum concerning the investigation to Dr. Kimberly Espy, provost and vice president for academic affairs, on Feb. 25.

This is the second investigation conducted on Moss’ classroom management. This investigation was conducted to determine whether Moss met expectations given to her after an incident in which Moss called UTSA police to escort a student out of her class in the Fall 2018 semester.

As a result of the initial investigation, Moss was required to complete a classroom management training program through UTSA’s Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) before returning for the Spring 2019 semester.

According to the memorandum, the investigation included interviews with Dr. Shelly Howell, Department Chair and Professor of Biology Garry Sunter, Moss and Interim Dean for the College of Science Howard Grimes, as well as reviews of Moss’s Spring 2019 syllabus and syllabus quiz, consultation summaries from the TLS and the report from Grimes’ investigation on the initial incident.

The memorandum states that Howell discussed syllabus matters with Moss.

“Dr. Howell advised Dr. Moss that she should include in her syllabus behaviors that ‘bugged her,’ along with providing information that would answer common student questions, and Dr. Moss could refer students to the syllabus for answers to these questions,” Shipley stated in the memorandum.

The report states that Howell reviewed Moss’ Spring 2019 syllabus and did not find it problematic.

“Dr. Howell reviewed the syllabus and didn’t think anything was wrong with it,” Shipley reported. “She did not consider past or future situations, just what the students should know based on Dr. Moss’ expectations for the class.”

According to Joe Izbrand, associate vice president for communications and marketing and chief communications officer, TLS does not approve of syllabi as part of its function.

Grimes’ belief that putting one’s feet up on the classroom seats should not be considered disruptive behavior is expressed in the report and is a belief that, according to the memorandum, conflicts with Moss’ belief and classroom management.

“Dr. Moss still continues to believe that the student behaviors in question, putting their feet on chairs, are disruptive classroom behaviors that negatively affect the learning environment,” Shipley reported.

“This persistent belief does not recognize the determination by her dean who is responsible for the academic programs in the college and the overarching supervisory responsibility for college personnel, and in addition, does not indicate appropriate adjustment to today’s classroom environment and is inconsistent with commonplace practice at UTSA.”

Also, the memorandum explains the TLS’s part in the process of attempting to reinstate Moss to her teaching position following the initial investigation.

“TLS staff failed to recognize the academic context and nature of Dr. Moss’ persisting beliefs and thus did not provide the expected guidance regarding specific requirements (e.g. classroom civility) to Dr. Moss about her syllabus, nor did they raise any concerns to academic administration, i.e., department chair or interim dean.”

The memorandum concludes with recommendations involving Moss’ teaching at UTSA as well as the department chair and dean determining if Moss is to return by May 1. An implementation of a task group providing guidance for student and faculty on classroom management and behavioral expectations and updating TLS services and support was also recommended.

“My hope is that this task force, representing all of us in the UTSA organization, will create a series of clearly written documents that are easily accessible in a single location on the UTSA website and provide detailed expectations in terms of rights and responsibilities on each side,” Moss said.

“This is too vital an issue to be left solely to the discretion of individual instructors, departments, or colleges and too far-reaching in its impact on the lives of students and faculty alike to be regarded as anything less than a top priority of the university.“

On Feb. 28, Espy sent an email to faculty announcing the appointment of the task force, which Shipley will lead, with the goal of providing guidance and recommendations on classroom management practices and behavioral expectations.

“This group will review our current guidance on classroom management, as well as the impact of implicit biases and behavior by both faculty and students,” Espy said in the email. “The creation of this task group was motivated by our commitment to being an exemplar university and was a key recommendation from the internal investigation into the classroom management practices of Dr. Anita Moss.”

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