Chico State biology professor parts ways with university

David Stachura

Embattled Chico State biology professor David Stachura is no longer employed by the university, a spokesperson said in a two-sentence statement issued Thursday.

The spokesperson, Andrew Staples, would not say if Stachura, who had been on paid suspension for more than a year, was fired or resigned. He was the subject of two investigations that were nearing conclusions. One was on appeal to the chancellor’s office and the other was scheduled for mediation in April.

Reached later by phone, Staples cited personnel privacy laws in declining further comment.

Stachura’s lawyer, Kasra Parsad, did not return messages Thursday.

The end of Stachura’s tenure at Chico State comes after a contentious court case to ban him from the campus and a failed libel suit he brought against a colleague.

EdSource reported in December 2022 that an investigation found that Stachura had an inappropriate relationship with a student that included sex in his office in 2020 that could be heard through the walls, causing colleagues to report him. Stachura has repeatedly denied the affair.

He received only light punishment for the affair and within months was named the university’s “Outstanding Professor” of the 2020-21 academic year. The award was rescinded after EdSource reported on it.

Stachura’s estranged wife later filed court papers in their ongoing divorce case alleging that he had threatened to shoot the professors who reported him and cooperated in the university’s investigation.

Stachura was a tenured biology professor and was considered an expert in the use of zebra fish for medical research.

A member of the biology department expressed relief  Thursday that Stachura is no longer on the faculty.

“It’s about time,” Gordon Wolfe, a semi-retired biology professor, said. The biology department, he said, “is no longer dysfunctional. People are happy again.”

Wolfe had reported to the university the allegations that Stachura’s wife made in court filings. A university investigation of the threats found that Stachura was not a danger, and he was allowed to keep working. The university’s police chief, who was a member of a panel that probed the matter, later testified that he disagreed with that finding.

In November, a report by a San Diego lawyer hired to investigate how Chico State handled the Stachura matter revealed that former campus President Gayle Hutchinson knew about the affair with the student and the alleged threat to shoot colleagues when she approved his promotion to full professor. She retired last year.

The report found that the university violated no existing procedures in how it handled the Stachura matters, including not informing faculty and students that Stachura allegedly threatened gun violence on campus.

The saga did get the attention of state lawmakers. An Assembly committee cited EdSource’s reporting on Stachura multiple times in a report issued earlier this month that concluded that students and faculty members across the state don’t trust how schools deal with matters of sexual misconduct as governed by Title IX of federal education law.

The report’s recommendations included forming a task force to examine whether “a statewide office to provide guidance and to monitor the compliance of post secondary education institutions with sex discrimination laws” can be formed and also having the leaders of the three systems issue annual compliance reports on sexual misconduct cases to lawmakers.

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