Campus News

Suspicious Incident puts Beloved Professor in Coma

Disclaimer: The following story, photos, and accompanying items are fictionalized and are part of Saint Leo University’s Alternate Reality Learning Experience (ARLE). The events described did not occur. The characters are fictional and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.


Dr. Penny Smith, professor of sociology, was found unconscious in her office by fellow staff on the morning of Sept. 28. The incident report provided by Campus Security and Safety states that Dr. Smith was stung by several wasps when entering her office and as a result, stumbled, fell, and hit her head. She was taken by ambulance to Florida Hospital in Zephyrhills.

Prestige Worldwide, the PR firm representing Vice President of Advancement and Communications Denny Moller, released a statement late Friday night stating that Smith’s hospitalization early Wednesday morning was due to a “medical incident.” They state that the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is currently handling the situation and that the University will fully cooperate. They say that the campus community is keeping Smith and her family in its prayers and ask that all others do the same. They stated that the University will provide more information as it becomes available.

According to Greg Kunzweiler, the representative from campus safety, Smith was loaded onto the ambulance at 8:25 a.m. An EMT on site suggested to Kunzweiler that her condition might be due to wasp stings, which he noted in the incident report. Kunzweiler was unable to give any other information relating to her condition at this time.

Within a few short hours of Smith being taken to the hospital, a CSI team could be seen investigating and collecting evidence in her office and her window was visibly broken. When asked why a CSI team was investigating her office, Campus Security and Safety had no comment.

The medical exam of Smith has yet to be completed, and no additional information has been released.

Smith, who has been teaching at Saint Leo for more than six years, teaches courses on global sociology, globalization and social movements, climate change and society, cities in a global context, globalization and public health, as well as on human rights and democratization. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Western Illinois University. Smith currently serves as editor of the Journal of World-Systems Research, the official journal of the Political Economy of the World-System section of the American Sociological Association. She has written and edited several books and articles on transnational and social movements and the global political economy.

Many students are very concerned after learning of the news of the incident involving Smith.

“I feel terribly about what happened to Dr. Smith and I’m very worried for her,” stated Junior Ariel Treadstone. “I took one of her classes last semester and I enjoyed having her as a professor so much. I really hope she recovers quickly and easily

Other students echoed Treadstone’s feelings.

“I was so upset to hear about what happened to Dr. Smith. She is my academic advisor so she’s done a lot for me throughout my time here at Saint Leo, so I’m extremely worried about her,” stated Senior Javier Bentley. “I really hope that whoever caused this incident is caught and reprimanded by the University and the law to the fullest extent possible. She and her family will remain in my thoughts and prayers throughout this difficult time.”

Smith’s husband has released a statement through his PR firm, The Tampa Scope, saying that he does not approve of the way the University is handling the investigation. He has been given very minimal information about what may have caused his wife’s condition, and is prepared to take legal action if the University does not provide him with the information he requests.

According to Smith’s husband, her office was compromised and ransacked the night of Sept. 27. She was admitted to the hospital following a health crisis related to the incident and is currently in a coma. He believes the University is withholding information that they gathered throughout the process. He is prepared to move forward with legal action if the situation is not properly resolved.

When asked about the vandalizing of Smith’s office, Kunzweiler had no comment.

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