Christine Condon and Leah Brennan
Senior staff writers
Catherine Carroll isn’t the only one who’s decided to leave the University of Maryland’s Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct lately.
By the beginning of October, three more staffers will be gone, including Deputy Director Leslie Annexstein, Annexstein said Wednesday.
An investigator and the office’s intake specialist also plan to leave before Oct. 2, Annexstein said.
Annexstein is leaving to become Howard University’s Title IX Director, she said.
When asked about the hiring timeline and reasons for the employees’ departures, a university spokesperson sent an emailed statement from general counsel Mike Poterala stating the university will “be working diligently this semester to fill other vacancies currently in the office to ensure they are fully staffed to support our campus community.”
Come Oct. 2, the office is expected to have only four of its staffers remaining: an administrative coordinator, a training manager and two investigators, since an investigator also left the office in May. Carroll’s resignation was reported by The Diamondback in August.
The office has dealt with staffing strains before. In 2016, Carroll said it had been operating at an “under-resourced, under-staffed pace” since its creation about two years earlier.
“It’s almost like we can’t grow fast enough,” she said.
In the meantime, the office will be co-directed by Andrea Goodwin, director of the university’s Office of Student Conduct, and Steve Petkas, the associate director of Resident Life, according to an email sent to the campus community from the president’s office on Monday.
SGA President Jonathan Allen said he has confidence in those officials, since they’ve been involved in how the university handles sexual misconduct before. The Office of Student Conduct determines punishments for students found responsible of sexual misconduct, and Petkas was the chairperson of the university’s task force on sexual assault.
Allen said while it’s “premature” to say that the departures are indicative of higher-level administrative problems, he’s concerned about how the offices will function in their wake.
These new announcements come after a tumultuous summer for university staffing.
The announcement of Carroll’s resignation in August came a few weeks after the university announced interim chief diversity officer Roger Worthington would do the same.
At a public meeting Tuesday, having returned to the education department as a faculty member, Worthington criticized higher-ups, saying he didn’t have enough support and felt more able to speak freely after returning to his previous role as a professor.
“The biggest question I have is are those two offices just going to be in a state of limbo?” Allen said.
Annexstein said she hopes the work Carroll began will continue after her departure.
“OCRSM is a very important and critical department for the university, and I think under Catherine Carroll a lot of the foundation was laid for a strong office. My hope for the university is that it continues that way,” Annexstein said.