Monty Cook, the executive producer of the Reese Felts Digital News Project in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, resigned Tuesday night amid concerns regarding an “inappropriate relationship” with a female student, said the school’s dean, Jean Folkerts.
Cook joined the school’s faculty April 1 after serving as senior vice president and editor of the Baltimore Sun and baltimoresun.com. His resignation comes just more than two weeks after the Nov. 1 launch of reesenews.org, a website created as part of the Reese Felts Digital News Project. The project is funded by a $3.5 million gift from the estate of UNC journalism alumnus Reese Felts — the biggest in the history of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Cook, who was in the first year of a five-year contract, received notice Sunday that he was placed on “off-campus assignment” for two weeks, Folkerts said. The assignment amounted to two weeks of paid leave. He was set to receive $135,000 each year, Folkerts said.
Folkerts was alerted to Cook’s relationship with the student when police were notified of a suspicious incident at Carroll Hall on Friday night. Folkerts said she was in contact with University attorneys during the weekend.
Journalism professor Don Wittekind will fill in for Cook on an interim basis, Folkerts said.
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