Dean Whaley Sends All Campus Email About the Firing of Scott Backer

This is part of a developing story. Check the site for updates throughout the day.

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Last night, an article was published by the Boston Globe titled “Educators accused of sexual misconduct often find new posts” giving more detail to the hushed firing of Scott Backer over the summer.

In short, Backer was fired from Vermont Academy in 2007 for a sending a series of predatory text messages to a 16-year-old student at the school, and subsequently encouraging other students of the school to shame her on Facebook. The Boston Globe contacted Wesleyan about Backer’s history, and the Unversity fired him within 24 hours of being contacted.

Dean Mike Whaley sent an all campus email this morning in response to the Globe article:

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

I’m writing to update you on a personnel matter. In June, we were contacted by a reporter from The Boston Globe, who informed us that an investigation had revealed that former Associate Dean of Students Scott Backer had been terminated from his previous job at Vermont Academy for inappropriate conduct that had not been previously disclosed to us. We immediately investigated the allegations, and he was terminated within 24 hours for having concealed the matter. He was not alleged to have had any inappropriate behavior while at Wesleyan.

This was the first time that Wesleyan learned of this matter. As part of the hiring process, Wesleyan received positive reviews of Mr. Backer in written references from and phone interviews with senior administrators at Vermont Academy. Likewise, no information was revealed in the background check. Had we been aware of this information, Mr. Backer never would have been hired.

As you may be aware, in his position here at Wesleyan, Mr. Backer managed case flow for student conduct cases. He served on, and frequently led hearing panels. Wesleyan has in place a system of checks and balances (other team members, panel members, and appeal rights) to ensure all cases are adjudicated fairly and properly. In an abundance of caution, we engaged Pepper Hamilton, a nationally renowned firm with expertise in campus discipline and Title IX issues to conduct a review of cases handled by Mr. Backer. The auditors completed their review and reported no concerning issues or impropriety.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at mwhaley[at]wesleyan[dot]edu, or Title IX Officer Antonio Farias atafarias[at]wesleyan[dot]edu.

Sincerely,

Dean Mike Whaley

The editors of Wesleying are currently working on a piece that will be published later today that attempts to answer the seemingly infinite number of questions that remain in the wake of this news.

Editor’s note: The comments section of this post will remain enabled, but the Wesleying comments policy stands. Comments with direct personal attacks and/or naming students directly involved in these cases will be promptly removed and the user banned. If you have any further comments or concerns, please email editors[at]wesleying.org

  • wes ’13

    Class of ’13 alumn here. We knew about this when I was there. The school must have known for much, much longer. I wonder how long they covered this up?

    Will anyone see repercussions for allowing a convicted sex offender to work with kids for this long?

    • wes ’17

      No. That’s not how Wesleyan works. A controversy happens, people get mad, there are meetings and town halls and articles, the administration makes a statement and makes some token gesture, and then it slowly fades away.

      Nothing will ever change until the people in charge change.

      • Dann

        things have changed just not fast enough. the discourse is not in the same place it was 4 years ago when I got here. student communities are not the same as 4 years ago. You’re right that we need better administration and that we can’t be content until we start making steps towards that, but saying that they’re the ONLY ones who can bring about change discredits the students who have been busting their asses advocating for themselves and each other since this place has existed.

    • HiFi

      Where does it say that he was a “convicted sex offender”?