A Kansas University School of Education dean has apologized for joking about a turkey that was abused and killed at a fraternity house party earlier this month.
Jim Lichtenberg, associate dean for graduate programs, emailed the joke to two other deans Wednesday in response to an email from an Indiana woman who contacted the three deans to protest the recent incident in which the rented turkey was chased and choked before a student killed the bird to end its suffering.
Jennah Dibiase, in Terre Haute, Ind., wished to send a message in protest of the turkey's mistreatment and chose the deans from a list of faculty email addresses on a KU website.
The dean's response included a slang term describing masturbation and was meant only for his two colleagues, he said later. But he inadvertently sent it to Dibiase as well.
Kansas University spokeswoman Jill Jess said the university considers the reported treatment of the turkey reprehensible and expects anyone involved to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations.
"The disrespectful levity used in this email does not reflect the opinions or actions of the university on this issue," she wrote in a statement.
While the Lawrence Police Department investigates whether animal cruelty laws were broken, the Kansas University chapter of Beta Theta Pi, where the party took place, has been suspended "indefinitely" by the fraternity's national organization.
Lichtenberg has called his email joke stupid, unprofessional and embarrassing, and said he tried without success to recall the email after he realized he had included Dibiase in the reply. After learning Thursday from The Kansas City Star that Dibiase was displeased at his response, he contacted her to apologize.
In an email to The Star, which Lichtenberg also provided to The Journal-World Friday, he wrote that his joke was not intended as a comment on the actual cruel treatment of a turkey and that he should not have written it.
"That I would craft such an email was most certainly a significant lapse in judgment on my part," he wrote.
Lichtenberg's original email to the two deans and Dibiase was not available to the Journal-World Friday.