According to Catherine Sivills, Murray State University’s assistant vice president for communications, MSU political science professor Mark Wattier has initiated his retirement process from the university. Earlier this week it was reported that Wattier was on suspension following an allegation that he made a racial remark to a black student in class last August.
In a recent telephone interview with the Ledger & Times, Arlene Johnson, a freshman from Sikeston, Mo., said she showed up for Wattier’s class on time on Aug. 25 and a film was already in progress. She said that after class, she and another student asked Wattier why the film had started early and he told her he always started films 10-15 minutes before class.
“And then he said, ‘Well, it’s OK, I expect it of you guys anyway,’” Johnson said. “We asked him, ‘What did that mean?’ And he said the slaves never showed up on time, so their owners often lashed them for it. He just didn’t have the right.”
Johnson said she then filed a complaint with the MSU Office of Equal Opportunity.
Sivills said that after the grievance process concluded, the final decision resulted in Wattier’s suspension effective Jan. 4, through May 15, 2011. He was suspended without pay and benefits, a decision which Wattier appealed through the OEO. Sivills said his appeal would be heard by a hearing body composed of three members of the MSU community appointed by MSU President Dr. Randy Dunn.
Sivills said Friday morning that MSU’s Human Resources department confirmed that Wattier had filed an application to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System and that his effective date would be March 1. She said she did not yet know how the retirement application would affect Wattier’s appeal.
Attempts to reach Wattier Friday morning were unsuccessful. A woman identifying herself as his wife answered the phone and said Wattier did not wish to speak to media anymore. The Ledger & Times requested a copy of an e-mailed statement he had sent to another newspaper, but the Ledger & Times was not provided with a copy of that e-mail.