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OU School of Drama calls OU Daily article regarding Tom Orr sexual harassment allegations 'smear campaign'

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Tom Orr

The sign denoting the School of Drama Administrative offices with Tom Orr as Director pictured Sept. 13. Orr's director office, number 125A, is being filled by the interim director while he moves to office 121, still in the Director's Offices in the Old Science Hall.

The interim director of OU’s School of Drama sent an email to members of the school community alleging a story The Daily published Sept. 17, regarding sexual harassment allegations against former School of Drama director Tom Orr,was a “horrible smear campaign” and contained inaccuracies and lies.

The Daily received the text of Judith Pender’s email from Randall White, a School of Drama alumnus who in June was part of an alumni letter requesting the College of Fine Arts tighten its sexual harassment policies. White said he received the text of the email from an OU faculty member.

White sent an email containing the director’s note to The Daily, President James Gallogly, Dean of the College of Fine Arts Mary Margaret Holt, Provost Kyle Harper, Associate Vice President for Alumni and Development JP Audas and Heather Hendricks, staff attorney in the OU Office of Legal Counsel.

Pender’s email note is as follows:

"By this time, I imagine you all have seen the horrible smear campaign propagated by The OU Daily.  In case you didn't realize, a photographer ambushed Tom as he left his class on Friday.

I think it is time we addressed this issue with the students.  I have given it a lot of thought, and I think the best way is individually in our classrooms.

Without rehashing each point, we can say the article contains gross inaccuracies and outright lies.  While we cannot talk about details of T9 investigations, we can each talk about our personal experiences working and recruiting with Tom.

I believe our students will appreciate our reassurance that their safety and security is our goal at all times.

If they have additional questions or would like more discussion, please refer them to me or Dean Holt."

The Daily contacted Judith Pender, interim director of the School of Drama, for comment twice today but has not received a response. Since the article was published Sept. 17, no administrator or faculty member from the College of Fine Arts has called The Daily directly to refute any part of the article as of 2 p.m. Sept. 18.

The Daily also reached out to OU Public Affairs and Mary Margaret Holt, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, and has not received responses.

Jana Hayes is a senior reporter on The Daily's news desk. She is a journalism senior and has worked at The Daily since her freshman year, having held several reporter and editor positions on both the news and enterprise desks.

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