EAST STROUDSBURG — There is a controversy brewing at a college campus in our area about the naming of a building.
Some people at East Stroudsburg University said their school’s upset about an honor for a former school President who they said minimized and may have tried to cover up the apparent sexual harassment by a former administrator.
This former Monroe Hall dorm on East Stroudsburg University’s quad will soon reopen as the school’s new Speech and Pathology center.
Early in July, the Chairman of the University’s Council of Trustees announced it would be renamed in honor of recently retired college president, Robert Dillman.
“We had a rocky relationship with Dr. Dillman during his tenure here,” said Ken Mash, the Vice-President of East Stroudsburg’s faculty union. He notes that professors twice passed a no-confidence vote on Dillman. But mash said that’s not why he opposes renaming the building.
“What surprises us is that the decision would be made before anything was really found out about what happened in the Isaac Sanders affair,” said Mash.
The Isaac Sanders affair came to light three years ago.
That’s when six former students filed a federal lawsuit against Sanders, Dillman, and the University. Sanders, at the time, was one of the University’s Vice-Presidents.
Court papers show one student claims Sanders engaged in, “…highly inappropriate sexual advances…” “…fondling and touching…” and that Sanders, “…put $1,000 on (the student`s) tuition account.”
Another former student claims, “…Sanders gave (him) a ride after (Sanders was) drinking at Dillman`s home…” “…pulled the car into a wooded area…” then, “…forced (the student) to give him oral sex…”
President Dillman ordered an internal investigation, and fired Sanders in 2009. But according to the suit, for the final report, “At the insistence of Dillman, (the investigator) removed relevant and potentially damaging information.”
“We would hope at the very least, the council of trustees would wait before doing this,” said Mash, who wants the case to be finished in court before considering naming the building after Dillman.
“This is a civil case that has been dragging on for a number of years,” said East Stroudsburg University Council of Trustees Chairman Pat Ross. “And I`ve been informed that I cannot discuss this.”
Ross said Dillman deserves a building named after him because under Dillman’s leadership, the university raised record donations for new dorms and classrooms, and attracted more quality students.
“I think he has brought us into the 21st century in many, many ways,” added Ross.
However, shortly after our interview, Ross changed course, and sent this email to campus employees saying his announcement:
“…was premature as the COT has not met and therefore has not taken any action regarding the renaming.”
At its September meeting , the council said it will take public comments on renaming the former dorm after the school’s former president.
The accusers and their lawyer declined to talk about the possibility of renaming the building after Dr. Dillman because a federal judge has issued a gag order on the case.
Three of the six accusers were forced to withdraw from the lawsuit because the statute of limitations expired.