By Adrian Hedden
Vying for a seat on Washtenaw Community College’s Board of Trustees in November, former welding instructor William Hazen Figg, may find it difficult to occupy the seat itself if elected.
After 38 years as an instructor at WCC, Figg was banned from campus in 2009 following his “resignation in lieu of termination,” according to his personnel file acquired by The Voice via a Freedom of Information Act request to Human Resources.
It was only after a Voice reporter mentioned requesting information from Human Resources that Figg was unavailable for comment, despite multiple phone calls and messages from Voice staff. Instructors in the welding department also declined to comment on Figg’s tenure at WCC.
“It’s a weird situation,” said Glenn Kay, a WCC welding instructor. “He did a lot for the students here. That’s all I can say.”
An agreement, signed by Figg and Associate Vice President for Human Resources Doug Kruzel on Sept. 9, 2009, outlines that Figg resigned in lieu of termination, as the agreement reads. He was granted emeritus status and banned from being on campus or contacting any college employees.
Figg was advised in the agreement to consult with an attorney. A section of the contract also requires Figg and his representative to keep the terms of the agreement confidential.
“It was agreed to that he must contact HR before returning to campus,” Kruzel said.
According to Kruzel, Figg has yet to contact Human Resources regarding his status on campus, though the election is just a few weeks away.
Figg is running for one of two open seats on the WCC Board of Trustees against incumbents Diana McKnight-Morton and Richard Landau. The Washtenaw Voice had intended to report on Figg’s four-decade career as a welding instructor in a pre-election personality profile, but when reporters spoke with employees in the department, they were unanimously referred to Human Resources.
On Jan. 22, 2008, Figg was issued a written reprimand, via email from Roger Palay, then WCC’s vice president of instruction. The reprimand confirms that after investigations took place, Mr. Figg was issued the complaint.
“The college has a policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment,” read the reprimand. “Based on the investigations that took place, you are hereby given this reprimand related to your conduct with students.”
The reprimand also mentions that “continued inappropriate behavior” may result Figg’s immediate termination.
Another complaint was filed on April 12, 2010 and sent in an email to Figg by Interim Vice President of Instruction Phyllis Grzegorczyk. The complaint states that Figg was back on campus, despite the prior agreement, and asserts that he is to remain off campus and out of contact with school employees.
The email read that Figg is only to be on campus under legitimate business outside of the Vocational Technology Department and confirms that he must contact HR before his arrival.
The message goes on to mention that any more violations of his 2009 agreement will result in nullification of the college’s obligations and Figg will lose any compensation or benefits assessed in his resignation in lieu of termination.