CSUN’s Mathematics department faculty met Friday in Live Oak Hall to discuss the ongoing investigation of professor Tihomir Petrov.
Petrov faces two misdemeanor counts of urinating in public, and is scheduled to be arraigned in San Fernando Superior Court on March 3.
He taught at UC Irvine from 2003 to 2006 and was most recently on the tenure track at CSUN.
The meeting, led by the CSUN Provost, Dr. Harry Hellenbrand, allowed the faculty to ask questions and express their opinions.
“Common questions were, ‘How dangerous is this person? Is he being (mentally) assessed? Will we be notified?’” said Michael Neubauer, CSUN mathematics professor. “The provost assured us that he is concerned with the safety of anyone on campus.”
While some faculty were concerned, others disagreed that the case warranted a high level of attention.
“I was rather surprised that one faculty member thought it was not a big deal,” Neubauer said. “They said that peeing on someone’s door is the same thing as giving someone the finger.”
Hellenbrand said he could not reveal the target or timeline of the events, or if the mathematics faculty were notified of the surveillance cameras installed in Santa Susanna Hall that allegedly caught Petrov in the act.
He said Petrov was scheduled to administer classes during the spring semester, but since the investigation, those courses have been reassigned and rescheduled.
“To my knowledge, this didn’t cause any problems for the students,” Hellenbrand said.
Petrov is not currently teaching at the university while a personnel investigation is conducted.
“It should take a couple of months,” Hellenbrand said. “An investigation includes accumulating evidence, interviewing parties and alleged participants, examining university policy and recommending further actions.”
Faculty members asked the provost why the university chose to go public with the matter and suggested the university police did not have to file a report, Neubauer said.
“That is not my opinion,” he said. “The provost responded that he would always file charges in a case like this.”
Hellenbrand said Petrov’s future at the university is dependent on his specific union contract, his violations and responsibilities outlined in that contract.
Mathematics Professor Alexander Alekseenko said the actions of his colleague are sad and unexpected.
“In general, any faculty are strong minded and competitive,” he said. “But most will follow the traditional ways of resolving problems.”
Alekseenko said Petrov, whom he described as an active teacher who seemed well integrated with his students, might have reacted in this manner due to a stressful workload.
“It could’ve been just a snap from compiling problems,” Alekseenko said. “As professors, we must find external funding, meet publishing quotas and a teaching load on top of all that.”
He went on to clarify that although stressed, Petrov’s actions were out of place.
“The fact that he was in charge of a class makes this case special,” said Alekseenko. “We expect more from teachers.”