West Florida university passes on FSU professor fired for sexual misconduct; will review hiring practices
Image via Fresh Take Florida.

061820 FSU Professors Fired LW 03
'The safety and well-being of UWF students in the classroom and online is the highest priority for the university.'

A Florida university confirmed Friday it will not employ next semester a former Florida State University professor who took a job there teaching after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct with students. It also said it was exploring how to overhaul its hiring practices to avoid similar issues in the future.

The University of West Florida in Pensacola said it had been unaware of the investigation at Florida State into Ross May, 38, when it hired him part-time to teach two online classes after FSU had fired him. The university said in a statement it was reviewing how it examines the backgrounds of its instructors.

“The safety and well-being of UWF students in the classroom and online is the highest priority for the university,” spokeswoman Brittany Sherwood said.

May, the former associate director of FSU’s Family Institute, was among three FSU professors identified earlier this week who FSU had determined committed sexual misconduct in separate incidents with students. It fired May, suspended another who resigned a few months later, and allowed a third to remain on the job. The most recent investigation concluded over the summer.

FSU fired May over allegations he pressured a student to get drunk, hugged her “in a forceful way” in a photograph, and bet another student $50 he could have sex with her by the end of the semester. The incidents allegedly occurred during 2019, and the investigation was completed in May 2020.

May did not immediately respond to an email inquiry about UWF’s statement.

May said previously that he had agreed to leave FSU but called its investigation conclusions unfounded. “I honored their decision, and I was satisfied with vacating my position.” He added, “As someone who has spent considerable time trying to empirically understand the process of forgiveness, I apologize to anyone that might have felt slighted during the investigation, and I wish them well in their endeavors.”

UWF’s provost, George Ellenberg, said the university had been unaware of the FSU misconduct investigation and the university’s findings when it hired him. He also said the university was reviewing its hiring processes.

For new hires, the university verifies employment and educational references and checks for criminal convictions, Sherwood said. It does not check to see whether applicants with previous college teaching experience have been the subject of Title IX investigations by their former employers.

May has maintained a working relationship with some members of FSU’s faculty after his firing. He published an academic paper earlier this month with Frank Fincham, the Family Institute’s director. He also published another paper earlier this year with Fincham.

Florida State faced widespread criticism earlier this year after new disclosures over its handling of a case against another professor, who was accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a visiting female international student.

The professor – who had already been counseled about sexual misconduct involving students in 1991 and 2005 – retired last year before FSU investigated the latest allegations, and the school dropped the case.

Responding to this week’s reports about the three professors, FSU said Friday that sexual misconduct was not tolerated and said there were many ways for people to report concerns. Until this week, the formal investigations were all previously undisclosed, and FSU had made no announcements about the investigations.

“As was demonstrated in these cases, it is important that possible violations of the university’s sexual misconduct policy are promptly reported so that the university can take immediate and appropriate action,” FSU spokesman Dennis Schnittker said.


Produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected].

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood is graduating from the University of Florida this December, where he studies journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected]


  • PamBeaudette

    November 21, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    I made over $700 per day using my mobile in part time. I recently got my 5th paycheck tyR of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily.ZXv simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing.Try now……………… Visit Here


  • Kim

    November 21, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    My buddy’s sister makes $95/hr on the pc. She has been out of work for eight months but yyi last month her pay check was $25450 merely working on the pc, pop over here….. Home Profit System


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn