Since Chancellor McRaven’s cryptic email announcing President Romo was being placed on administrative leave due to allegations regarding his conduct, the series of subsequent events can only be described as odd.
Each morsel of information passed along to UTSA students, faculty and staff came via the UT System, not representatives or administrators from the university. This was frustrating and odd.
On Friday, Dr. Leslie — UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs — announced Dr. Romo was stepping down as president and retiring from UTSA effective immediately.
“The search process for a new president is proceeding as planned, and we look forward to appointing a president in the fall, prior to the start of the next academic year. In the meantime, Dr. Pedro Reyes will serve as president ad interim,” Leslie stated.
The System’s assurance that the presidential search is proceeding undeterred feels like they’d like students to be just as unbothered. Move along, nothing to see here. Odd.
The email included McRaven’s statement saying he was grateful for Romo’s service and his dedication to steering UTSA toward Tier One status.
In this moment, who among us is concerned about Tier One status? Tone deaf and odd.
Romo’s statement was also included in the email.
“I have been made aware that the manner in which I embraced women made them uncomfortable and was inappropriate. I understand and respect Chancellor McRaven’s concerns about my behavior and I deeply apologize for any conduct that offended anyone.” Romo goes onto to say he’s proud of the work he and his staff achieved, and wishes students the best in their future endeavors. He signs off, “GO ROADRUNNERS!”
This is flippant and odd.
This bizarre display of school spirit in a memo addressing sexual harassment seems inappropriate. This isn’t a football game, this is a serious and confusing moment for our community. We deserve sincerity, not breeziness.
Later that Friday afternoon, Romo released another statement through his attorney Ricardo Cedillo’s office.
He describes the allegations against him as “‘abrazos’ that were considered offensive”.
“The Chancellor is correct in establishing that there is no ‘abrazos exception’ for a 73-year-old retiring university president. I accept this is the world we live in,” he stated.
President Romo was known for his student-oriented style of leadership and was considered by many to be the heart of this university.
His statement frames himself as a victim to a changing professional culture while referencing his Latino culture.
But even in San Antonio, ‘abrazos’ in the workplace seem odd.
Interim President Reyes addressed the UTSA community in an email later that Friday afternoon. The acting president’s statement echoed the familiar jargon of continuing “the bold steps that will take us ever closer to Tier One.” But what have we learned from the former UTSA president? What will the next UTSA president inherit? As it stands right now, he or she will inherit a community still left wondering what happened.
Dr. Reyes was the only administrator to acknowledge in his statement that these past few weeks have been times of uncertainty. In these times of uncertainty, we must remember this:
We have only heard Dr. Romo’s narrative. We only have one side of the story. It’s likely that we’ll never hear the women’s stories on the other side of this — and that is odd.