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Professor accused of misconduct

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

A professor at Taylor University has resigned following allegations of misconduct.

Dr. Dennis Hensley, a professor for the Professional Writing Program, resigned from Taylor on June 16 after the university issued an investigation once it received “credible allegations of serious misconduct,” according to a release from Taylor.

According to Director of Media Relations Jim Garringer, the most recent allegations of Hensley’s misconduct were brought to the university’s attention over a month ago. As a result, the administration launched an investigation and notified Hensley that he would be suspended “pending the results of the investigation,” Garringer said.

He resigned the same day he was notified of his suspension. On Friday, the 69-year-old professor said he chose to resign as a means of retirement. 

"I've been trying to take the high ground on this," he said. "I'm close to retirement anyway, so I thought this would make it easier on everyone." 

This is not the first time Hensley has faced allegations of misconduct, according to the Taylor release. In 2004, Hensley was accused by a student of sexual misconduct while serving at the former Fort Wayne campus of Taylor University. 

Hensley addressed that accusation on Friday, and said he was "comforting a student." He explained that a student came to visit him in his office and went into emotional shock. He said he later learned that she had been raped the day before. 

"I was in Vietnam, I know shock when I see it," he said. "She was shaking and crying and wailing, so I touched her shoulder and she leaned into me." 

He said once the student left his office, he called his supervisor and explained what had just happened, advising that the student seek professional help. 

"When she reported it, the way she remembered it was totally exaggerated," he said. 

According to the statement from Taylor, interviews in the investigation "yielded conflicting stories." He explained Taylor administration placed a letter on the situation in his faculty file and advised him "not to make physical contact" with students. 

Since the 2004 accusation, two separate complaints of potential misconduct that were unrelated to the 2004 incident were brought to the administration. This time neither complaint had come from a student.

He explained that on both occasions, he was assisting females interested in the writing program or with personal matters. He was disciplined again by the university for both complaints via a letter in his file and being advised against physical contact, he said. 

As of 2017, he had published 10 textbooks on writing and also served on the board for Midwest Writers Workshop.

Prior to coming to Taylor, Hensley had served as a visiting professor in 2001 at Regent University in Virginia. He came to the Upland campus in 2009 after the Fort Wayne Taylor campus closed, Garringer said.

The release states that the university is "grieved by any instance of predatory behavior or abuse of power." 

Hensley offered that "this Me Too movement thing has been going crazy," referring to the social media campaign for victims of sexual misconduct or assault to come forward using the hashtag #MeToo. 

Garringer could not provide details on the investigation and whether it would continue following Hensley’s resignation.