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UNLV Professor, Others Claim Harassment Want Top MSU Academic Fired

When UNLV political science professor Rebecca Gill was a graduate student at Michigan State in 2003, she went through something that is today causing quite a stir in academia.

Those 15 years ago, Gill says she was asked by the editor of a major academic journal of political science to have an affair with him. She said she was stunned

”I was shocked. I didn’t really see it coming,” she said, “I said, something like ‘you can’t expect me to answer that.”

The editor of that journal was William G. Jacoby, a political science professor who was, at the time, on his way to a professorship at Michigan State University.

Gill held onto that story until a conference in January that dealt with mentoring graduate students. Though she didn't use Jacoby's name, it was clear to some listening who she meant.

Since then, at least one other woman has made similar allegations.

And earlier this week, Jacoby wrote in the editorial space of the American Journal of Political Science that his accusers weren't telling the truth. He also said he would step down as editor in December.

Gill says she was "gobsmacked" by Jacoby's editorial.

“What surprised me most was the forum that he used," she said, "He put this on the main page of one of the best known academic journals in my discipline. This has a huge reach and it is a platform that carries with it a lot of official power.”

That’s not the end of it, though. At least one investigation is ongoing. And several dozen professors have signed a letter asking that Jacoby is fired.

For Gill, Jacoby's dismissal is not her primary goal.

“My intention when I first talking about this story was really to help us as an academic discipline get better at mentoring people and get better at creating welcoming climates for all sorts of different kinds of people.”

Rebecca Gill, associate professor of political science, UNLV 

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.