A distinguished University of Oregon human physiology instructor was sentenced to a year of probation and anger management courses after pleading guilty to multiple charges stemming from a road rage car crash.
Jon Runyeon, 45, was driving north down Hilyard Street toward 11th Avenue in July 2017 when another car cut him off and he crashed into it, causing a “fender bender,” he told Judge Wayne Allen Wednesday at Eugene Municipal Court.
Runyeon told Allen he then backed up his car and drove it forward again into the other car, “tapping” it for a second time before driving away without saying a word to the other driver.
“It was an awful moment,” Runyeon said in court Wednesday. “All I can say is it was uncharacteristic, and I’m ashamed about it.”
Shortly after the hit-and-run, police came to Runyeon’s home asking for more information about the incident, and from then on Runyeon cooperated with police, his lawyer said in court.
Runyeon, who according to UO’s website is the director of undergraduate advising, the director of the human anatomy laboratory, and an instructor in the school’s human physiology department, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to hit-and-run and criminal mischief charges.
Allen sentenced Runyeon to a year of probation on each of his charges, eight days of road crew service, two Saturdays of anger management classes and a $500 fine. Allen said in court it was unfortunate to see Runyeon in the courtroom in this situation given his prominent role at UO and in the community.
“I’ve been here for a while and I just don’t see these types of things very often,” Allen said.
Runyeon agreed with Allen that taking anger management classes as part of his sentence “seems reasonable.”
According to UO’s website, Runyeon is known by his students as a “rock star of anatomy education.” He currently teaches Human Anatomy I and a few other lecture and laboratory courses at UO, while overseeing the cadaver dissection program and serving as one of the human physiology department’s main undergraduate advisors.
In 2016, Runyeon received one of UO’s distinguished teaching awards, the Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy, which “recognizes faculty members early in their careers who have demonstrated exceptional abilities to induce students to reason and who have expertise in a particular area of teaching.”
When contacted Thursday morning, UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said he was not aware of Runyeon’s case and would look into it, but that any potential disciplinary action taken against Runyeon would not be shared publicly due to UO’s faculty record policy. He later said via text, “He is still employed. That’s really all I’d have to say.”
An article about Runyeon on UO’s website reads, “Jon’s student evaluations are filled with words such as ‘amazing; awesome; best ever; passionate; exceptional; respectful; and caring. He is tireless in his dedication to student growth and is a true mentor and guide to his students.”