Joel Pearsall, interim president of Northwest Nazarene University, wrote in a post on the university’s website Thursday that he appointed Carey Cook, vice president for student development, and Karen Pearson, director of residential life, to receive reports about incidents similar to the one that cost former President David Alexander his job.
Alexander abruptly resigned in May. Last weekend, NNU board chairman Randy Craker revealed that the resignation was due to the revelation in April of an inappropriate relationship Alexander had with a student more than 25 years ago, when Alexander was a music professor at the university.
Thursday, Pearsall said news of that incident prompted other “unrelated” reports of similar past issues. He did not offer more specifics about the new reports, including who they involved, how long ago the incidents took place or what was alleged to have occurred. Craker's statement reported there were no further allegations of inappropriate relationships involving Alexander.
Pearsall confirmed that Craker’s Saturday statement was prompted by a Facebook post earlier that day by the student Alexander was involved with, describing their relationship. Prior to Saturday, NNU officials had made no mention of the true reason for Alexander’s resignation, which came as he faced an unrelated faculty revolt that included a vote of no confidence in his leadership. A press release announcing the change included a statement from Craker expressing his appreciation for Alexander’s “visionary leadership.”
Craker said in his Saturday statement that the university’s board at first chose not to mention Alexander’s relationship with the former student because board members didn’t want to victimize the student a second time. It’s not clear when Pearsall learned of the incident; he made no mention of it in a mid-May Statesman Q&A.
“No institution is immune from issues of this kind, especially institutions that have been around for as long as we have,” Pearsall wrote Thursday. “Although incidents like this are never acceptable at any time or in any place, at NNU we seek to attain, through prayer and God’s help, a higher standard. Therefore, I want to humbly apologize on behalf of the university both to the individual involved in the present situation and to others who are sharing on social media incidents of being hurt or feeling unheard.
“We deeply care about these issues and intend to demonstrate that to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and other constituents through the actions we take going forward.”
Anyone wishing to report something to Cook or Pearson can reach them over email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Pearsall also directed people to Canyon County’s Victim Witness Unit “where appropriate,” listing the phone number for the county prosecutor’s office, 208-454-7391.