By Melissa Ludwig - SAEN
The professors' behavior violated an ethics rule barring state employees from “making personal investments that could reasonably be expected to create a substantial conflict of interest between the employee's private interest and the public interest,” Romo wrote in a July 25 letter.
Arroyo and Shih both have claimed they did nothing wrong, and Arroyo plans to appeal his case to a faculty tribunal. Shih did not return a call for comment but has said he will fight for his job.
“They got the wrong person,” Arroyo said. “This is a witch hunt. I had the support of the students and the community, and I am going to fight to clear my name.”
Now that Romo's decision is in writing, the case can move forward, said David Gabler, a university spokesman. A faculty tribunal will likely hear the case next month and send its conclusions to UT regents for a final decision. Until a final decision is made, both professors will be on paid leave.
When city officials let an option to buy the land expire, Arroyo and his business partner, Elizabeth Ortiz, snapped it up as a real estate investment. Arroyo asked Shih to get in on the deal, and Shih agreed without seeing the land.
“That was not my decision, but they are holding me responsible for somebody else's behavior,” Arroyo said.
“Each professor at UTSA should understand that creating a conflict of interest between one's personal business and the efforts of students is a violation of the university's ethics policy,” Gabler said.