Longtime SMC dean fired following complaint
DOWAGIAC — A Southwestern Michigan College dean has been fired after the investigation into an anonymous complaint.
Scott Topping was fired on Feb. 13 from his position as dean of the college of arts and sciences, according to SMC President David Mathews.
Topping had been with SMC for nearly 25 years, starting as an English instructor in 1995. He moved up to English department chair in 1999. He had been serving as dean of the college of arts and sciences since 2005.
The termination comes after a lengthy investigation of an anonymous conduct complaint lodged against Topping on Jan. 10, according to Mathews. After the complaint was made, Topping was placed on non-disciplinary suspension.
The complaint was made on the school’s anonymous complaint system, which allows anyone to report any concern.
“We put the system in place in the environment where colleges and education institutions have security concerns,” Mathews said. “The strength of the reporting system is that it’s anonymous, but the weakness of the reporting system is that it’s anonymous. Anybody can say anything. … So, anytime any complaint of any type comes in by the anonymous reporting system, we investigate it.”
Mathews said that neither he nor the college can offer details into the complaint that led to Topping’s departure, as it is a personnel issue. However, Mathews said that a thorough investigation was performed, with dozens of people interviewed.
“I cannot say much,” Mathews said. “The investigation did conclude on Feb. 13, with Dr. Topping no longer working for us.”
When contacted, Topping declined to comment.
Now, SMC is actively searching nationwide for Topping’s replacement as dean of the college of arts and sciences, while David Fleming, SMC vice president of instruction, temporarily fills the position.
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