UT Tyler VP resigns after investigation

Published on Friday, 26 June 2015 15:02 - Written by CORY MCCOY, comccoy@tylerpaper.com

(UPDATED June 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm CT) The University of Texas at Tyler’s vice president of administration and chief business officer resigned after allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct surfaced during an investigation, university officials confirmed.

Jesse Acosta’s resignation was effective June 25.

According to an email sent to staff on Friday from President Rodney H. Mabry, Acosta, 58, had been placed on administrative leave on June 11 while UT System investigated the situation, stemming from allegations made by an anonymous caller on May 19, 2015.   Acosta was named VP of Finance and CBO in 2009.

Public salary database records indicate Acosta was making $185,075 annually.

When reached by telephone Friday, Acosta declined to comment.

Mabry appointed David Dabney to serve as the interim vice president for administration and chief business officer. Dabney served as the director of financial services from 1998 to 2001. He most recently served as the chief financial officer and vice president of finance at the Univerisity of Toledo, until his retirement in 2013. Dabney has agreed to serve until a national search produces a permanent replacement. Vice President Sherri Whatley will lead the search committee and be assisted by a national search firm. 

The Tyler Morning Telegraph has obtained a copy of the investigation’s summary. 

The following are excerpts from the summary. The full text is attached.

"On May 19, 2015 at 11:24 pm, an anonymous individual contacted the U.T. Tyler Ethics and Compliance Employee Hotline and alleged that Jesse Acosta, Vice President for Administration and Chief Business Officer at UT Tyler, was bullying, demeaning and sexually harassing women under his employ."

The summary indicated investigators attempted to make contact with the complainant to get additional information, but the complainant never responded. However, according to the report, investigators interviewed 13 people and were able to substantiate the anonymous complainant's claims. 

"The conduct of Mr. Acosta has been corroborated by witnesses in multiple departments, with job titles ranging from Assistant Vice President to Administrative Assistant. With such a wide cross section of individuals interviewed, U.T. System can be confident in the accuracy of the events depicted in this report," the investigation read.

"After thorough review, our office found that Mr. Acosta’s general management style is aggressively dominant. Mr. Acosta has made numerous improper statements regarding women’s appearance. There are credible allegations regarding instances of improper touching. Mr. Acosta has made improper statements regarding FMLA and national origin issues."

Twitter: @TMT_Cory