BGSU Firelands students ponder professor's arrest

HURON BGSU Firelands students have mixed feelings about how administrators handled the arrest of one
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



BGSU Firelands students have mixed feelings about how administrators handled the arrest of one of their professors for allegedly sending a threatening e-mail.

Some felt they should have been informed of the situation, especially given the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Donald Pryor, 36, an adjunct instructor of biology and chemistry, is accused of sending a threatening e-mail last week to Christine Genovese, 47, a full-time faculty member in the science department. Concerned for her safety, she notified school officials.

The note stated in part, "May God punish my enemies since I can't. ... no money and no power. Which power is ... I know I shouldn't say this ... but exactly what I seek. I will go with my gut vibe and say go f*** yourself."

Firelands Dean James Smith said an internal memo was sent out to the appropriate staff and faculty, but students were not informed about the incident. That decision prompted some discussion with students on campus.

One of them, Liz Koba, 19, of Norwalk, said she thinks most people think Pryor was just fired.

"I didn't know about the e-mail," she said. "I have friends in his classes who think he was fired, but it didn't have anything to do with an e-mail."

Kris Monroe, 19, of Sandusky, said most students would like to decide how to handle the news, but would need it in the first place to make such a decision.

"You know it is going to play out through gossip or the media, so why not just put it out there?" she questioned. "I am not sure a lot of us even know. I really am not reading anything into it."

Smith said after Pryor was arrested he "sent out an internal memo to the appropriate staff and faculty chairs concerning the incident. At this point, no information was sent to all of the students."

He said that the school handles all complaints that appear to be threatening as a law enforcement issue and turns them over to authorities to investigate.

Authorities determined that Pryor was not a threat to himself or others so the information was not broadcast to all of the students.

Adam Mullins, 20, of Norwalk, thinks the issue is safety and nothing else.

"It's not like you can do much of anything except what they (school officials) did," he said. "I think it might cut down on people guessing about what happens if they don't know something."

Ann Brown, 24, of Port Clinton, said information could be sent out in a general e-mail to help keep rumors from spreading.

"I did not know about it, but when rumors start to spread it gets worse," she said.

Erie County Sheriff Deputy Jeff Hippely, who is assigned to the Firelands campus, reviewed Pryor's e-mail with Genovese and Mark Charville, the school's director of budget and operations.

His investigation revealed Pryor had been reported as "acting strangely lately and had been asked to leave buildings on campus late at night on several occasions recently, including one night that he was asked to leave at 3:30 a.m. as the campus policy is that everyone should be out by 11 p.m."

Genovese told Hippely that Pryor had spoken with her on Wednesday and she ended up teaching his class. After the class, she sent him an e-mail detailing changes she wanted made to the class. She stated that she has had problems with Pryor in the past.

Shortly after the Thursday meeting between school and law enforcement officials, Pryor was arrested while leaving campus. He was charged with telecommunications harassment and taken to the Erie County jail.

During his arraignment in Huron Municipal Court, Pryor was granted a week's continuance to hire legal counsel. His bond was set at $5,000 and he must stay off of the Firelands campus and away from Genovese. He was also required to successfully complete a mental evaluation.

An upper level biology and chemistry professor will take over Pryor's classes.