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Originally published Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 8:01 PM

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WWU suspends drama prof on new accusations

Western Washington University has again suspended a professor who has been accused in the past of berating and demeaning students and colleagues.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Western Washington University has again suspended a professor who has been accused in the past of berating and demeaning students and colleagues.

Perry Mills, 69, an associate professor in the theater department, was suspended with pay, pending an investigation, after two students lodged complaints about him this quarter.

University spokesman Paul Cocke said he could not disclose details of the complaints since the claims are confidential during the investigation.

Reached on Wednesday, Mills called his accusers — current and past — "emotionally unbalanced nincompoops."

"They have an even more deranged bunch of fabrications of idiocy than they had last time," he said.

Mills maintains the current accusations are a continuation of the university's efforts to get rid of him ever since he accused his department chairman of embezzling student fees to buy equipment for which the funds weren't intended. A preliminary internal audit by the school did not establish whether the department chairman had misspent the fees.

Mills has been a polarizing figure on campus. While some students say Mills' blunt teaching style challenged them, others described him as a bully, according to university records.

According to those records, Mills referred to an overweight student as a "400-pound canary who warbles nothingness." He apparently also called a female colleague a "bimbo" and "slut" to her face and referred to a male colleague he believed to be gay as "Precious."

He had been warned repeatedly since 1998 to curtail his behaviors and in 2001, he was admonished by the dean of the school's College of Fine and Performing Arts for bringing weapons onto campus, and for going off on "belligerent rants" about killing people who offended him.

The university held a faculty disciplinary hearing in 2005 that resulted in Mills' suspension for two academic quarters without pay.

The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the school had not erred in holding its disciplinary hearing behind closed doors.

Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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