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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