UM strips former professor of emeritus title due to misconduct

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan Board of Regents on Thursday stripped the emeritus title from former professor Adon Gordus due to what UM said was misconduct it learned about after he left the school more than 20 years ago.

Gordus was professor of chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts who retired in 2001, according to the UM Faculty History Project, which documents faculty history. He began his UM tenure as an instructor in 1957.

Adon Gordus

He was granted emeritus status 2001, the same year that he retired, according to records of regents meetings

Gordus has no criminal record in Michigan, according to a search of the Michigan State Police database, but is listed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for an offense that occurred in Ohio more than a decade ago.

It is not clear if that offense is linked to the recommendation from interim President Mary Sue Coleman that the emeritus status of Gordus be stripped, "for misconduct that became known after the emeritus status was conferred."

"Had this conduct been known at the time, emeritus status would not have been conferred," Coleman's recommendation says.

UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald declined to elaborate.

"All the information we have to share is in the action item," Fitzgerald said.

Gordus, who is 89 and lives in Brighton, according to the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, could not be reached.

Sandusky-based attorney Troy Wisehart, who represented Gordus in the 2006 criminal case, also could not be reached Thursday.

Gordus pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor, in January 2006, according to Sandusky Municipal Court Deputy Clerk April Yount. Both counts could have carried 60 days jail time but a judge suspended all days for three years of future good behavior.

Police reports obtained by The Detroit News show that Gordus was accused of touching a 17-year-old boy in 2004 at Blake's Gym in Sandusky while he was working as a photographer taking images of bodybuilders for an Ann Arbor-based company, AA Bodyworks.

The boy was modeling in a Speedo bathing suit and he accused Gordus of pulling down the boy's bathing suit during a photo shoot and repositioning the teen's genitals, according to the police report. He later during the shoot allegedly had the boy remove his bathing suit and cover himself with a cloth material but at one point the teen said his genitals were allegedly exposed. After the shoot ended, he asked the boy to look at images on his computer that included naked men, and the boy left the gym. 

Police during their investigation seized a computer and discs from Gordus and found pictures of a naked man on the hard drive of the computer, according to the police report.

During his 44 years at UM, he was a researcher, teacher and mentor in neutron activation analysis, according to the Faculty History Project. He also served as assistant director of the Honors Program, taught undergraduate analytical chemistry and was among the first to introduce to students the use of personal computers.