The physician assistant accrediting body is in the process of examining an appeal filed by the University of Toledo after it withdrew the physcian assistant program’s accreditation Oct. 6, said Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.
In a complaint filed on Mar. 29, Meenakshi Kaw, former faculty clinical coordinator, said that Patricia Hogue, associate dean of diversity and inclusion and the department’s then-chair, was “verbally abusive and mistreated staff and faculty.”
Kaw said she filed her complaint because Hogue often demeaned her in front of colleagues, with phrases such as, “Get it through your Ph.D. head.”
The allegation sparked an investigation by the Faculty Labor Relations and Academic Inclusion Office regarding Hogue’s leadership within the department, said a July 20 memo written by Senior Director Kevin West to Cooper.
The investigation brought more concerns to the attention of the Academic Inclusion Office.
According to the memo, the office interviewed six current and former employees of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Four of the six individuals identified instances in which Hogue’s behavior was unprofessional, unnecessarily harsh and “extreme” under the circumstances. They also said they feared retaliation from Hogue for the information they shared in their interviews.
The program’s accreditation status was placed on probation shortly after while the Office of Inclusion prepared the internal investigation. That same day Kaw filed her complaint, she was told that her contract would not be renewed the following year, Kaw said.
The memo also states that a student also filed a complaint against Hogue for her behavior, which included yelling at the student in her office. The memo also states that there was a high turnover rate of employees within the department, reflecting Hogue’s mismanagement.
Hogue was accused of having a poor attitude and heard saying on several occasions, “I am a 60-year-old African American woman, and no one can touch me,” the memo said.
The memo also reported that numerous individuals said it was common for Hogue to bring up performance issues during staff meetings, rather than meeting with those individuals one-on-one, making the staff feel uncomfortable.
Hogue also failed to share accreditation information with the program director at the time, April Gardner.
According to the memo, Hogue was emailed the accreditation documents from the accrediting body eight months prior to the deadline. The email had explained the documentation required and the steps for submission because the process had been updated from the previous years. Hogue directed Gardner and another employee to get the accrediting documents together using the old process. They worked for approximately a month and half gathering the information that was required in the old process before they realized there was a new format.
Gardner and the other employee had to redo the paperwork. There was some data that couldn’t be compiled because the new process required that data be compiled from the start of the fiscal year. Hogue claimed that the PA program is on probation because Gardner knowingly submitted the wrong forms, according to the memo.
Hogue also failed to take into consideration accreditation requirements in the hiring process. Gardner left the program without notice after Christmas break last year, blaming Hogue for her decision, the memo said.
Hogue named Assistant Professor Linda Dill as the replacement program director, ignoring that Dill did not want the position.
Cooper wrote a letter to Hogue on Aug. 18, stating in the letter that he and West agreed that Hogue was to transition into her diversity role full-time when they recruited a new department chair.
However, on Oct. 6, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant determined that UT’s program “is no longer capable of providing an acceptable education experience for its students.” Hogue was asked to resign as chairman shortly after and was replaced by Professor Linda Speer as Department Chair.
“She is an experienced leader with accreditation experience as well,” said Cooper. “She’s a great candidate, and she was very willing to take on her new role.”
Students graduating in December will graduate from an accredited PA program on probation, Cooper said. They expect to hear word on the appeal within the next month, and, if unsuccessful, UT will go into the next round of appeals, according to Cooper.
"The single thing that matters to me the most is that we look out for our students who are currently enrolled,” Cooper said.