Photo credits: Exterior of Wells School of Music, photo taken from West Chester University
A statement posted to Instagram on Aug. 28 by Mina Santiago, a former student of WCU’s Wells School of Music (WSOM), describes an inappropriate relationship between her and WSOM professor, Dr. Van Stiefel.
The statement included a detailed history of Dr. Stiefel’s former conversations and relationship with Santiago during her time as a student.
According to her statement, the university terminated Dr. Stiefel’s tenure during the fall 2022 semester after Santiago took her report to Lynn Klingensmith, WCU’s Title IX coordinator.
On July 10, Klingensmith reached out to Santiago stating that “the union’s lawyers were attempting to repeal the school’s decision to terminate Stiefel,” but her testimony could keep him terminated.
Santiago’s statement described an arbitration on Aug. 10 that led to Dr. Steifel’s reinstatement. According to Santiago, Dave Mueller, legal counsel to PASSHE, and Bill Helzlsouer, chief human resources officer at WCU, informed her that the university used the threat of her testimony against APSCUF to “reinstate him on their own, supposedly restrictive, terms.”
On Aug. 31, Dr. Christopher Hanning, the WSOM Dean, emailed a statement to the students of WSOM addressing the issue.
Dean Hanning’s email included a statement from West Chester University Administration stating, “we will continue to provide support for this student and work to prevent misconduct within our University community.”
The email also said, “in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, public employees have both legal and collective bargaining protections that provide them the opportunity to challenge employment decisions.”
Dr. Stiefel is not currently listed as a faculty member on the WSOM webpage despite his apparent reinstatement.
Santiago asked a close friend of hers to start a petition to protest the reinstatement of Dr. Steifel, which was posted to change.org on Aug. 31.
The Quad is actively reporting on this story and will be releasing follow-up articles in the coming weeks.
If you have information to share about this developing story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gaven Mitchell is a third-year History major with a minor in Journalism. GM1001024@wcupa.edu
Brianna Chau is a third-year Political Science and Philosophy major. BC976136@wcupa.edu
Olivia Schlinkman has also made contributions to this article. Olivia is a third-year Political Science major with minors in Spanish and Journalism. OS969352@wcupa.edu