By Dave Wilson, WV Metronews
MORGANTOWN — Morgantown Deputy Mayor and West Virginia University English Professor Mark Brazaitis has been relieved of his assigned teaching duties for the fall semester and banned from campus.
An English professor, Brazaitis subsequently emailed students and colleagues about his indefinite suspension:
“Just wanted to inform you that, for no apparent reason, your university won’t let me teach this coming semester,” he wrote, copying President Gordon Gee, Provost Joyce McConnell and other university administrators. “I don’t know why. You might ask the gentlemen (and the provost) who are copied on this email. They are obliged to provide you with an explanation.
“Please ask them if what they have decided will prevent me from writing you letters of recommendation or offering you career advice throughout your lives. And if the answer is no, that I can do all of this for you, please ask them what they would be willing to pay me to do so.”
Police were called to the deputy mayor’s home Monday night for what was described as a “non-criminal matter.” Sources said the issue began at Brazaitis’s residence on Courtney Avenue during an attempt to have him involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation.
The search for Brazaitis continued through out the night before he turned himself over to Monongalia County Sheriff’s Deputies nearly 15 hours later. Brazaitis was checked into Ruby Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning, before eventually being discharged from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“Tell people I’m fine,” Brazaitis texted to The Dominion Post following the search. “When you want to do great things for the city and the state, sacrifice is required. I am not afraid.”
WVU notified Brazaitis late Friday of the decision to bar him from the classroom through a letter from Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Dean R. Gregory Dunaway, which Brazaitis sent to WAJR News and The Dominion Post.
Dunaway previously offered Brazaitis a chance to step away voluntarily, but the professor refused to sign documents he deemed to be “a trick.” Brazaitis shared an email exchange in which he asks Gee and McConnell, “Do I deserve to be re-traumatized by what you pulled today? No, don’t answer: I am re-traumatized.”
WVU will allow Brazaitis to receive pay and benefits as he focuses on research from home. He will be required to complete an assessment process through the WVU Faculty and Staff Assistance Prorgram before becoming eligible to return to the classroom.
He must complete the following steps:
- Participate in an assessment process through our Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FSAP), which may include an assessment by a licensed provider, independent from WVU, that meets the standards of our FSAP provider.
- Sign the release that will allow the FSAP provider to discuss with the provider the assessment results.
- Be cleared to return to the University and teaching functions through the oversight of the WVU FSAP office, in conjunction with the designated provider.
Brazaitis is required to sign the necessary paperwork to begin the evaluation process by Sept. 10. If he fails to complete the paperwork the within the next 30 days, he will be placed on leave of absence without pay.
If Brazaitis completes all of the necessary requirements, he could return to his usual role with the university.
Brazaitis has been a lightning rod for controversy over the last several weeks. Brazaitis has been involved in several very well publicized disagreements with the city’s parks and recreation focused BOPARC Board, the Mylan Park Board, Monongalia County Commission, the Hazel-Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, the Monongalia County Democratic Committee, several fellow council members, and his own employer — West Virginia University.
Most recently Brazaitis has called out the Monongalia County Democratic Party, saying it needed to be purged and “replaced with actual progressives” and announced a haphazard write-in campaign for U.S. Senate. In his announcement he claimed he would be running against “either two or three Republicans,” referring to Democrat incumbent Joe Manchin as a Republican.
The Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Thursday that Brazaitis has not filed the paperwork to become an official write-in candidate. He has until Sept.18 to file.