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Novena of Grace 2016

Home : News : Nation and World
Harassment investigation surfaces involving former ambassador
Catholic News Service

DAYTON, Ohio — An investigation into a claim of sexual harassment among faculty members at the University of Dayton concluded it was likely that a former ambassador to the Vatican "created a hostile environment," resulting in a requirement to stay away from the accusers.

Miguel Diaz, former ambassador to the Holy See, was investigated last summer over a sexual harassment accusation by his fellow professors at the University of Dayton, according to documents leaked to a publication.

The investigation resulted in "remedies," such as requirements that Diaz avoid contact with the married couple who filed the complaint, the documents said.

Diaz has been University Professor of Faith and Culture at Dayton since 2012, when he stepped down from three years as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. A theologian, Diaz previously taught theology at the College of St. Benedict and at St. John's University, both in Minnesota, and at the Marianist-run Dayton from 1996 to 1998.

Meanwhile, Loyola University Chicago announced in February that Diaz and  his wife, Marian, a lecturer in religious studies at Dayton, had accepted tenure-track positions at the Jesuit-run Illinois school beginning this summer.

Information about the investigation at Dayton and its outcome was published in the online magazine Inside Higher Ed May 5, drawn largely from two confidential letters from University of Dayton administrators that the publication was given by an unidentified source.

The article included links to the letters, which obliterated the names of the professors who filed the complaint. The magazine identified them as a married couple who both teach in humanities.

One of the letters, from Dayton provost Joseph E. Saliba, refers to communications among Diaz and the parties who raised the complaint. The letter said the complainants thought Diaz's communications constituted sexual harassment "through various requests and references to explicitly sexual feelings."

The other letter, from university general counsel Mary Ann Poirier, said outside counsel had investigated the accusation and concluded "there was reasonable cause to believe that some of (Diaz's) conduct constituted sexual harassment that created an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment."

The "remedies" in Saliba's letter said Diaz was to avoid contact with the couple, would have no input into their employment, performance or other roles "at the University of Dayton or elsewhere." The letter said Diaz had been reminded of the university's sexual harassment policy. Further, he was required to refrain from personal discussion of "matters of a sexual nature with any university student, anyone employed by the university who has a position of less influence or stature than Dr. Diaz ...."

Through his attorney, Gabe Fuentes, Diaz declined to comment.

In an email to Catholic News Service, Dayton spokeswoman Teri Rizvi said: "In February, Dr. Diaz informed the university he had accepted a new position at Loyola University Chicago and submitted a letter of resignation." Rizvi added Diaz is under contract at Dayton through May 15 and that the university would have no further comment on the matter.

At Loyola, he will hold the John Courtney Murray University Chair in Public Service and will be a professor of systematic theology. His wife will be an assistant professor of practical theology in the Institute of Pastoral Studies.

In a May 6 email to CNS, Loyola spokesman Steven Christensen said, "The university doesn't comment on personnel decisions, but we can confirm Miguel Diaz has accepted an offer from us for a faculty appointment. He has signed a contract, which is set to begin on July 1."

The Dayton Daily News reported that the Inside Higher Ed article was posted a week after more than 100 tenured faculty at Dayton cast ballots of "no confidence" in Saliba in a symbolic vote called by faculty members. The paper said the vote was called during a dispute with Saliba over administrative and governing issues. It said 313 faculty members were eligible for the vote, and 160 cast ballots.

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