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Unanswered Questions

Phi Theta Kappa Finances

1. Michael (Mike) Watson was employed by Phi Theta Kappa from 1990 to 2006. He served as an Associate Director and as the International Officers' liaison to the Headquarters staff, which meant he worked directly with many International Officer Teams. It is highly rumored that Mr. Watson had evidence of Dr. Risley’s personal misconduct and instead of suing the organization, agreed to take compensation and sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Is this only a rumor? If so, why did Mr. Watson, receive $156,960 from Phi Theta Kappa in 2012, six years after he disassociated himself from Phi Theta Kappa? 2. Does this money paid to Mr. Watson represent money received from a sealed agreement and/or lawsuit involving Mr. Watson and Dr. Risley? If so, what was the nature of the lawsuit and why is Phi Theta Kappa paying it? 3. How many sealed agreements or monetary settlements has Phi Theta Kappa or Dr. Risley signed and executed? What were the nature of these agreements? 4. The Board of Directors stated in their April 9, 2015 statement that Phi Theta Kappa is giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to Dr. Risley and regardless of the reasons, it is still compensation paid to him. The Non Profit Times2014 Salary and Benefits: Operating Budget and CEO Pay” report states that the average nonprofit executive compensation for an operating budget the size of Phi Theta Kappa’s is $150,000 – $185,000 annually. In fact, the average executive compensation for an organization with five times the budget ($50 million annually) of Phi Theta Kappa is still less than Dr. Risley’s current compensation.

Why does the board’s statement try to make light of the power and influence Dr. Risley obviously holds with the person(s) on the finance committee that decide his salary? Personal Misconduct of Dr. Rod Risley

5. June 23, 2013: The international officer team that Ms. Reeck and Ms. Marek served on made a staff member, Garon Tate, aware of Dr. Risley’s sexual relationship with a student. Mr. Tate confirmed that the matter was discussed with Dr. Risley. Mr. Tate resigned a month later. January 9, 2014: Two days before Ms. Marek was suspended, Kaitlyn Worman, Ms. Reeck, Ms. Marek, and Mr. Tate met in Jackson, MS and discussed the misconduct of Dr. Risley with the student mentioned in June 2013 and the allegations made by Ms. Reeck and Ms. Marek. The group discussed the option of talking to the media and no definite decisions were made, except that Dr. Risley’s abuse of power and misconduct with students needed to be stopped. February 5, 2014: Dr. Risley texted Ms. Reeck at 9:56pm and asked if she felt he was inappropriate with her. When Ms. Reeck did not answer, Dr. Risley texted her again at 11:54pm and said that Ms. Marek made claims to past international officers that he was inappropriate with Ms. Reeck (message). February 26, 2014: Ms. Marek was served a cease and desist order (document) by the law firm that represents Phi Theta Kappa, Watkins and Eager. The order claimed that Ms. Marek made untrue statements about Dr. Rod Risley. April 9, 2015: Kip Johnson states that the board was not made aware of Dr. Risley’s personal misconduct until April 2, 2014 for Ms. Marek and December 11, 2014 for Ms. Reeck (Marek document)

Why did Dr. Risley question Ms. Reeck about Ms. Marek’s claims of his inappropriate behavior and a subsequent cease and desist order served on Ms. Marek for making untrue statements, if the board had no knowledge of Dr. Risley’s personal misconduct prior to April 2, 2014? 6. January 24, 2015: At the Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors meeting, neither Ms. Reeck’s nor Ms. Marek’s allegations were discussed, as confirmed by Ebonee Carpenter, a current board member present at the meeting. February 19, 2015: Dan Bailey, current elected Advisor Representative to the Board, stated that he was not made aware of Ms. Reeck’s allegations nor was he made aware that any letters had been sent to the board by her college President or her lawyer.

Why did Kip Johnson fail to inform the entire board of Ms. Reeck’s allegations when he was made aware by Ms. Reeck’s attorney and college President two months prior to the board of director’s meeting? At what point were all board members made aware of Ms. Reeck and Ms. Marek’s allegations, and why was there a delay by Kip Johnson to share this information with the entire board? 7. If it is normal procedure for Dr. Risley to converse with international officers from his personal cell phone, then why did only one international officer (Ms. Reeck) have access to his personal cell phone number and why have previous international officers stated that they were never given Dr. Risley’s cell phone number and rarely had personal conversations or contact with him? Why did Dr. Risley text Ms. Reeck after business hours and as late as midnight multiple times (see images below), if his intentions toward her were purely professional? 8. Ms. Marek received stellar reviews from the regional coordinators to the events that she attended (document). Ms. Marek was never reprimanded or counseled in writing or verbally by any Phi Theta Kappa employee that any of her actions or behavior during her tenure would lead to suspension. Ms. Marek was reprimanded during her forced resignation for authoring Daniel Chitty’s Honors in Action speech, but Mr. Chitty was never suspended for requesting that Ms. Marek author his speech (document). Ms. Marek has made numerous written and verbal requests for the reason for her immediate suspension and forced resignation. Why did Deidra Daws and Dr. Risley refuse to let Ms. Marek leave the room or consult with her chapter advisor, before forcing her to resign? If Ms. Marek was not suspended for retaliatory reasons, why was Ms. Marek suspended and where is the evidentiary documentation? The Investigation, Board of Directors, Constitution, and Bylaws

9. In 1983, while Dr. Risley was employed by Phi Theta Kappa as their Alumni Affairs Director, he had a relationship with the 1982-83 International President and the pair were married a few months after her international officer term ended. As per the Mississippi State Bar, Dr. Risley’s first wife and former international officer, is employed by Watkins and Eager, the objective law firm first retained to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations. Due to a tremendous conflict of interest, why was this firm ever retained by Phi Theta Kappa? 10. Ms. Marek sent a letter to the Board of Directors, Monika Byrd, Jennifer Stanford, and Susan Edwards informing them of her allegations against Dr. Risley on April 2, 2014. Ms. Marek insisted that her letter be confidential and that no other person see its contents, specifically Dr. Risley. How is the Board of Directors to be trusted to remain objective, independent, and protect the confidentiality of persons who come forward with allegations against Dr. Risley when Ms. Marek’s allegations, which she explicitly requested remain private, were distributed to Dr. Risley and other staff and volunteers of Phi Theta Kappa prior to the launch of an investigation? 11. Phi Theta Kappa’s April 9, 2015 statement explains that the investigation into Ms. Marek’s allegations was dismissed, significantly because her pro se lawsuit was “before a court where litigation, investigation and discovery would reveal the facts.” The statement also says that Ms. Marek's lawsuit “remained pending for over five (5) months, but was ultimately dismissed by the Federal Court on February 13, 2015.” If Phi Theta Kappa discontinued an investigation so that the court system could “reveal the facts,” why did Phi Theta Kappa move to dismiss Ms. Marek’s lawsuit because Saralynn Quinn stated that she was not an employee (document), instead of letting it proceed to “reveal the facts?” 12. As per the bylaws (Chapter VII, Section C), “board members elected by the Executive Committee (International Officers) may serve more than two consecutive terms when recommended by the Executive Director and approved by the Executive Committee.” Who authorized Kip Johnson’s current and third successive term to the board? Are there no other viable candidates, in all of Phi Theta Kappa’s 3 million members, to represent the Alumnus position on the board? Why hasn’t the validity of Mr. Johnson’s position on the board been questioned in light of his failure to properly inform the entire board of the allegations against Dr. Risley? Independent Investigation

An independent investigation is in the best interest of every person involved in this matter. Due to the board’s publicly admitted bias and objectivity toward Dr. Risley, an independent investigation must:

1. Keep the confidentiality of any and all persons who request it, for the duration of the investigation and for so long as requested afterwards. 2. Be free of any control, affiliation, or influence of Phi Theta Kappa employees, Board of Directors, volunteers, affiliates, and must not be involved with any other organization affiliated with higher education. All persons contacted in the investigation must be able to give testimony without fear or intimidation of retaliation or public scrutiny. 3. The firm must not release any information regarding the investigation, witness statements, or participants to Phi Theta Kappa employees, Board of Directors, regional coordinators, advisors, members, donors, affiliates, or even the investigation participants themselves at any time for any reason, until the investigation is complete. 4. The legal firm conducting the investigation must specialize in sexual harassment cases for employers and employees. The conductors of the investigation must have access to any and all employee records, financial documents, or any other documents they deem necessary. 5. Dr. Rod Risley should have absolutely no contact with the board of directors, employees, regional coordinators, advisors, members, donors, or affiliates of Phi Theta Kappa for the duration of the investigation. 6. When the investigation is complete, the results should be released to Phi Theta Kappa’s Board of Directors, Ms. Marek, Ms. Reeck, and Dr. Risley simultaneously. 7. Dr. Risley should be removed from his position and any and all compensation ceased immediately if an investigation finds that he:

  • sexually harassed, molested, or assaulted a student, employee, or volunteer of Phi Theta Kappa

  • engaged in a sexual relationship with a student

  • abused his power or influence with a student, employee, or volunteer of Phi Theta Kappa

8. Any and all employees and board members who are found to have aided in the indiscretion and misconduct of Dr. Risley, abused their own power or influence, or participated in the character assassination of any students, employees, board members, or volunteers of Phi Theta Kappa are to be terminated or relieved from their positions and affiliations with Phi Theta Kappa immediately.

*Text messages sent beyond business hours

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