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Texas professor found dead amid school policy controversy

A University of Texas professor at the center of a scandal over the school’s failure to discipline employees for off-campus crimes has been found dead.

Tenured pharmacy professor Richard Morrisett was discovered in his home Thursday morning

A statement Friday by Gregory Fenves, president of the University of Texas System’s flagship Austin campus, didn’t provide a cause of death but said, “We recognize these are difficult times on campus.”

Morrisett last year pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend in 2016. The Austin American-Statesman reported recently that he wasn’t disciplined by the school, which led to protests and flyers with Morrisett’s mug shot posted around campus.

The same day Morrisett’s body was found, Fenves announced policy changes that mean university employees who commit off-campus crimes could face discipline, even in cases that don’t threaten campus safety or university operations.

The school’s mission, values and code of conduct will be considered when evaluating university responses to employee criminal violations, Fenves said in a letter sent to the university community.

Morrisett was sentenced to four years of probation, but university officials allowed him to keep teaching and running a research lab after an internal review found “no relation between how the professor acted in this situation and how he acted on campus.”

Rules at the time university officials reviewed Morrisett’s case listed domestic violence, physical assault and dating violence as prohibited conduct that wouldn’t be tolerated. It also required employees to report arrests to supervisors, though officials concluded that Morrisett failed to do so.

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