An independent investigation surrounding last year’s departure of former WSU Provost Mitzi Montoya from her position found no evidence that the decision was based on discriminatory feedback or improper influence from third parties.
Conducted by Seattle attorney Kathy L. Feldman, the investigation examined the following issues:
- Whether a WSU contractor, Jean Frankel with the consulting firm Ideas for Action, provided and/or relayed feedback to, or an assessment of, Montoya that was gender-based.
- Whether Frankel’s feedback played any role in the decision to terminate Montoya.
- And, whether the decision to terminate Montoya resulted from improper influence or pressure from third parties.
Feldman, who specializes in employment law at the Seattle law firm of Karr Tuttle Campbell, interviewed several members of the WSU community and reviewed correspondence relating to the issues raised. To each issue, the investigation found no evidence to support the concerns raised by some faculty and staff following Montoya’s departure from the Provost’s Office in September 2019.
“The investigation focused on whether Montoya’s termination violated any WSU policies and standards, including the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct, Executive Policy 15 (EP 15) and whether the decision to terminate Montoya’s appointment resulted from any improper influence or pressure from third parties,” Feldman wrote in her report, which is dated July 20, 2020.
Montoya, who initially returned to the WSU faculty following termination of her appointment as the university’s provost and executive vice president, has since left the university.
At the request of Faculty Senate leadership, WSU President Kirk Schulz authorized an independent review of his handling of the decision following the announcement that Montoya was voluntarily stepping down from the provost role and returning to faculty.