UWS pulls pay following investigation

A University of Wisconsin-Superior professor has been put on unpaid administrative leave following an investigation into his decades-old conviction in Utah for attempted child sexual abuse.

Matthew Faerber, director of choral activities and a professor of vocal music education at UWS, and the chorus director of the volunteer Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Chorus has been employed with UWS since 1998. When he was hired, the UW System did not require background checks on new employees.

The investigation was not triggered by anything that has happened on campus, according to UWS spokeswoman Lynne Williams. She said someone anonymously called system legal with information about Faerber’s conviction.

The professor was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 28 pending the investigation.

Former Barron County Circuit Court Judge Edward Brunner conducted an independent review of Faerber’s past as well as his time at UWS. Following the review, Chancellor Renee Wachter decided to proceed with dismissal.

At that time, Oct. 7, the professor’s administrative leave became unpaid. He requested a hearing before the faculty personnel committee. One had been scheduled for Monday, Williams said, but it was cancelled.

Following a hearing, the committee will prepare written findings and a recommendation to the chancellor. At that point, Wachter would make a decision as to how to proceed.

Williams said she could not disclose any further details as it is a sensitive personnel matter under active investigation.

According to a 1991 story in the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Faerber, who was formerly choir director at Murray High School in Utah, was charged with sexual improprieties involving two 13-year-old music students. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted sexual abuse of a child, which are third-degree felonies, and was sentenced to six months in jail. Following that, he was to enroll in a residential treatment facility for counseling and was put on 36 months of probation.

The UW System put in place a criminal background check policy for new hires on Dec. 1, 2007, and strengthened it twice this year. The UW System and UWS policies now require criminal background checks to be completed for existing employees who hold a “position of trust with access to vulnerable populations,” according to Williams.

“We are in the process of implementing this policy,” she said

About $23,000 has been paid for a teacher to cover Faerber’s classes and duties on campus during the investigation.

A call to Faerber was not returned by press time.

Duluth News Tribune staff writer Janna Hollingsworth contributed to this story.

Story originally published in the October 22 issue of the Superior Telegram

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