The University of Colorado hired a national expert in workplace and school violence prevention this spring to assess associate philosophy professor Dan Kaufman, who was banished from the Boulder campus in March and later reinstated.

According to CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard, the university paid $2,625 to John Nicoletti for services in connection with Kaufman, who was suspended with pay March 4 for unspecified reasons. That money comes from the College of Arts and Sciences general fund, Hilliard said.

Hilliard declined to comment on Kaufman's situation, saying that it was a personnel matter. He said that, broadly speaking, the type of consulting offered by someone like Nicoletti focuses on "assessing the impact to the teaching and learning environment of a disruptive faculty member, staff, or student, or it can focus on why such behavior is occurring."

"We will not discuss Dr. Kaufman's particular case, but Dr. Nicoletti is a resource that is available to employers when they need assistance in managing issues related to employees and determining how to structure their relationship," Hilliard said.

According to documents obtained by the Daily Camera, Nicoletti or his staff wrote a violence assessment report after evaluating the professor. The report, considered a private personnel record, appears to have been shared with certain campus administrators with Kaufman's consent.

'Post-Virginia Tech era'

According to a report released by the state and local chapters of the American Association of University Professors in April, Kaufman may have been suspended after he made a joke about suicide to philosophy department chairman Andrew Cowell.


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Though not speaking about the AAUP report directly, Hilliard said that generally the university takes all threats or comments that can be interpreted as threats very seriously.

"In the post-Virginia Tech era, and in the shadow of the Aurora theater shootings, all universities must do so to ensure the safety of their communities," he said.

Kaufman declined to comment for this story.

Nicoletti could not be reached for comment Thursday.

According to the website of Nicoletti's firm, Nicoletti-Flater Associates, he is an established national expert in police psychology, violence risk assessment, workplace and school violence prevention, crisis intervention and trauma recovery.

Nicoletti helped investigate the shootings at Columbine High School and at Virginia Tech University, according to the website. He is the co-author of several books on violence prevention, including "Violence Goes to College: The Authoritative Guide to Prevention and Intervention."

'Rare' assessment

Students reported seeing Kaufman escorted by several campus police officers on the day he was informed of his suspension, and faculty members in the philosophy department were instructed to call police if they saw the professor on campus.

The campus exclusion order was lifted more than two months later, on May 20.

Hilliard would not discuss what led to Kaufman's banishment or eventual return to campus.

"In general, policy allows the university to exclude a person from campus when doing so is in the university's best interests in ensuring that the campus environment is safe for all students, faculty and staff," Hilliard said. "If the university had an ongoing concern that a student or faculty member represented a threat to the health and safety of the university community, it would continue the exclusion and take further appropriate action."

Nicoletti's services were engaged by the university on March 25, March 26 and April 22, Hilliard said. The university can engage his services on an as-needed basis, he said.

Hilliard said he did not have specific numbers but that it's uncommon for the university to use the services of someone like Nicoletti.

"I can tell you that it is rare for the university to obtain these kinds of assessments," he said.

Kaufman is scheduled to teach "Introduction to Philosophy" and "History of Modern Philosophy" this fall, Hilliard said. He will also have general departmental responsibilities with graduate students.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com.