December 3, 2021

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University of Montana computer science professor resigns amid Title IX investigation | Local News

A computer science professor at the University of Montana resigned from his position Friday afternoon after recently coming under fire for his controversial blog posts.

Rob Smith’s lawyer, Matthew Monforton of Bozeman, shared a statement on Twitter announcing his resignation and insinuated that the current Title IX investigation was not being handled objectively.

“Rather than lend legitimacy to an investigation that I believe is being conducted dishonestly and, in the interest of sparing my wife and children the need to endure another ‘investigation’ where merit is trumped by ideology, I am choosing to resign, effective today,” Smith wrote in the statement shared by Monforton.

Smith maintains that his blog pertained to his personal religious beliefs, which he alleges the university told him were “protected under the First Amendment.”

Monforton confirmed the statement in a phone call with the Missoulian.

Smith has been on paid leave pending the conclusion of the investigation. 

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He came under fire after the Montana Kaimin reported on Smith’s troubling statements from his blog and YouTube channel regarding gender, Muslims, underage girls and individuals who are LGBTQ.

The university confirmed Smith’s resignation, but has not indicated how the resignation will impact the investigation.

Smith joined the university as an associate professor in July 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was granted tenure in 2017. He has run a blog called “Upward Thought” since at least 2013. 

Smith is CEO of Prime Labs, a scientific software company, which is housed in a university-owned building. It is unclear how Smith’s resignation will impact the lab. 

UM President Seth Bodnar has previously called Smith’s views expressed in his blog “homophobic and misogynistic” and said he was personally disgusted following the reporting by the Montana Kaimin. 

“Building a culture of respect, empowerment and equity is foundational to our mission at UM as well as personally important to me,” Bodnar added. 

Students on campus have organized “Fire Rob Smith” social media pages and a website since his blog was brought to light. About 150 students rallied in front of Main Hall on campus last week demanding the university fire Smith or for him to resign.

The Associated Students of the University of Montana unanimously approved a resolution last week demanding Smith’s resignation or termination. 

“This is great news for everyone at the university and all the students who didn’t want to have to take any more classes from him,” said Betta Lyon Delsordo, a student involved with organizing the “Fire Rob Smith” effort. “It really shows progress that we, as a student body, came together and were able to say that we did not want him here and he listened.” 

To Smith’s claim that the investigation wasn’t being handled objectively, Lyon Delsordo said she trusts the system and Title IX office to follow “all legal processes to do what’s right.”

“There are stories that have come forward that go beyond his blog posts and I think there still needs to be accountability,” Lyon Delsordo said. 

Students involved with “Fire Rob Smith” are not done with their work to make their campus a better place, she said.

“We are continuing to look at what we can do across the university to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and that there are more steps in place to make campus more inclusive and that everyone can feel comfortable going to school here.”

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https://missoulian.com/news/local/university-of-montana-computer-science-professor-resigns-amid-title-ix-investigation/article_accb0fa0-3577-5b09-8a90-1577ef74b696.html