The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has fired a 63-year-old university chancellor after discovering sexually explicit videos he made with his wife, according to the former chancellor.
Announcing Joe Gow’s firing, University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman said the university had “become aware of specific conduct by Dr. Gow that subjected the university to significant harm to his reputation. His actions were heinous.
Gow has been placed on administrative leave as he “transitions to a faculty role,” Rothman said in a statement posted on the UW website. The university director added that he had filed a complaint requesting that Gow’s status as a full professor be reconsidered, noting that an external law firm had been retained for the matter.
Gow, who according to his academic profile was the 10th chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, told CNN he was being punished for pornographic videos he made with his wife. He was not given “due process” and the “books and videos my wife and I produced are protected by the First Amendment,” Gow said in a statement to CNN.
“I was not given any due process, they never said what policy I violated and there was no hearing either,” Gow said.
The former chancellor told CNN in an interview that he was informed after a Board of Regents meeting that he had been fired from his position at the university. He added that he and his wife were “very serious” about the explicit books and videos they produced.
“Ultimately the question is whether our material is covered by the First Amendment,” Gow said.
Gow said that when he was appointed chancellor, he signed an employment contract but he does not remember any code of conduct. “It says ‘set a good example’ and I think what I’m doing with my wife sets a good example when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”
“We make videos that are not violent or exploitative,” Gow added.
The school’s board chair, Karen Walsh, said the former chancellor had “shown reckless disregard for the role he was given at UW-La Crosse, serving students, faculty and staff, and the campus community.”
“The outrage over his behavior is evidenced by the unanimous vote of the UW Board of Trustees to fire him as chancellor. We are alarmed and disgusted by his actions, which were completely and undeniably inconsistent with his role as chancellor,” Walsh said.
The statements from Walsh and Rothman do not detail Gow’s actions or conduct.
Gow told The New York Times that he and his wife, Carmen Wilson, had been making pornographic videos “for years” and had recently decided to distribute them more widely on pornographic websites. The couple said they never mentioned college or their jobs.
“We should all be deeply troubled that the Board of Regents is overlooking the fact that the books and videos my wife and I have produced are protected by the First Amendment as well as the Regents’ commitment to freedom academic and freedom of expression,” Gow said in a statement to CNN
UW–La Crosse had 9,352 undergraduate enrollments in fall 2022. The University of Wisconsin–Madison had 37,230 undergraduate enrollments, according to U.S. News & World Report.
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