A University of Texas at Austin professor who continued to work at the school despite pleading guilty to a 2016 domestic assault charge has been found dead in his home.
Richard Morrisett was a pharmacy professor, and the university kept him employed despite the charge. According to the university, law enforcement officials found him at home Thursday. Officials have not said how he died, but the Travis County Sheriff’s Office says his death is not suspicious.
“Professor Morrisett’s death is a tragedy. We support his family and loved ones as they grieve during this time. We recognize these are difficult times on campus and the university will offer all the support we can to students, faculty and staff members,” President Gregory L. Fenves wrote in a statement.
Over the past year, students and the community have commented about the situation surrounding Morissett’s employment with UT. In February someone spray painted “UT harbors abusers” and “Watch your back Richard” near the Pharmacy Building on campus. There was a protest the next week where demonstrators held signs that read, “UT harbors abusers” and “Fire Richard Morrisett” on the steps in front of the UT Tower.
In response to feedback about Morrissett’s employment, the university began reviewing its policies about employees who may have engaged in criminal behavior off campus. Fenves said in January that policies and procedures in place that require them to determine “whether off-campus conduct has a direct impact on an employee’s on-campus duties.”
On Thursday Fenves announced new, strengthened policies, including considering UT’s Mission, Core Values and Code of Conduct when reviewing and deciding how to respond to situations where employees face criminal charges.
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