UNC prof resigns over text messages

Monty Cook shown in a publicity photo released by UNC when it announced his hiring in March.

November 18, 2010 4:41:14 PM PST
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says one of its professors has resigned over allegations he "fostered an amorous relationship" with a female student and sent her sexually explicit text messages.

Monty Cook, 46, had only been on the job since earlier this year. He was executive producer of the school's new high profile Reese Felts Digital News Project in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

According to a news release UNC sent out in March announcing Cook's hiring, the program is an "experimental digital news and audience research initiative designed to help news organizations adapt to the new media environment."

Documents released by UNC show Cook contacted journalism school dean Jean Folkerts November 13 after he was confronted by the student's former boyfriend about the text messages the previous day.

Folkerts then met with the student and viewed the text messages.

Folkerts sent Cook a letter saying she was moving to take disciplinary action and informed Cook he was not allowed on campus or to have any contact with the student.

A memo from UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp released Wednesday shows Folkerts was seeking to have Cook fired when he resigned November 16.

"I'm really sorry this happened. I'm sorry for the student that was involved and for the setback to the student's new station, but we'll get somebody good in there," said Thorp in comments to reporters Thursday.

Cook, a 1986 UNC graduate, returned to Chapel Hill after more than 20 years of journalism and news management experience with The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Orlando Sentinel and the Myrtle Beach Sun News.

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