UTS science academic charged over fake harassment campaign
UTS may have wasted more than $150,000 running an extensive private security operation protecting a prominent science professor who allegedly orchestrated a fake harassment campaign against herself, according to court documents.
The UTS Dean of Science, Dianne Jolley, told NSW police she received 10 threatening letters over a six-month period, from July to November.
A source familiar with the investigation told nine.com.au one of the letters sent to Ms Jolley’s UTS campus office contained her underwear, which had been cut up.
Ms Jolley, 49, told investigators clothing had been stolen from her washing line by someone who had sneaked onto her property.
As UTS sought to protect Ms Jolley, a private car was used to escort her to and from the campus in Sydney’s CBD. Court documents showed UTS spent $157,000 on Ms Jolley’s security between late-July and mid-November.
The alleged harassment campaign is understood to be linked to a UTS decision to axe its four-year traditional Chinese medicine degree, a course the university had offered for 25 years until its cancellation in September.
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On Wednesday, Ms Jolley denied she fabricated the harassment campaign and pleaded not guilty to charges she faced in Sydney’s Downing Court Centre.
Outside court, Ms Jolley’s lawyer Aaron Kerneghan told reporters she was on leave with full pay.
A university source told nine.com.au Ms Jolley’s salary as Dean of Science would be $182,000 at a minimum.
UTS refused to say if Ms Jolley, a highly regarded academic in the science community, is receiving benefits while her case moves through court.
Following Ms Jolley’s court appearance, UTS have closed ranks.
UTS sources told nine.com.au that vice-chancellor Attila Brungs and provost Andrew Parfitt called an emergency meeting on Wednesday and instructed staff not to speak with media.
An email from Mr Parfitt to UTS staff and seen by nine.com.au addressed the arrest and charging of Ms Jolley.
“It is … important to note that at this stage these are allegations and that the full facts will emerge during the court proceedings,” the email said.
Ms Jolley’s Faculty of Science spent several months reviewing the traditional Chinese medicine degree before announcing in September it was financially unviable and would be phased out.
The decision was hotly disputed, and a petition of 9000 students and alumni fought to keep the course running.
It is understood the decision will affect more than 20 staff and 250 students.
NSW police said they are unsure what motive Ms Jolley had for the alleged fake harassment campaign. Investigations are ongoing.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms Jolley joined UTS as Dean of Science in December last year. She has sat on a number of national boards and committees in the science community, including the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and Science & Technology Australia.
Ms Jolley was arrested at the UTS campus on 15 November. She was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, give false information person/property in danger, and false representation resulting in police investigation.
She will next appear in court in February.