Wednesday, October 14, 2015

End of the Road

A well-known UC Berkeley astronomer facing sexual harassment allegations from multiple students has stepped down after a furor about whether the university had treated him too leniently. The university has faced growing criticism in recent days over its handling of an investigation of professor Geoffrey Marcy. The investigation, sparked by a series of complaints, found that he had sexually harassed women students over a nine-year period. In a statement Wednesday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and provost Claude Steele confirmed Marcy's resignation and said: “We believe this outcome is entirely appropriate and have immediately accepted his resignation.” They described Marcy’s conduct, as determined by the investigation, as “contemptible and inexcusable.” However the two top campus leaders said they did not have the authority to fire Marcy without a lengthy and uncertain process. They noted that the standards of evidence in such cases are very high and they would be subject to a three-year statute of limitations, which could have excluded some of the older allegations against Marcy. After the results of an initial probe, the school had imposed strict guidelines on Marcy's behavior and warned him of suspension or dismissal if he violated them. “Our objective was to protect our students by immediately preventing any reoccurrence of the behavior described in the investigative report. We thus chose to establish, in writing, a strict set of behavioral standards that went beyond what is specifically proscribed by the University’s rules and regulations,” Dirks and Steele wrote. They said they would work “to reform the University’s disciplinary processes, criteria and standards so that in the future we have different and better options for discipline of faculty.” In a statement released earlier this week, the university said that, following the investigation, Marcy had agreed to meet certain expectations in his interactions with students and that a failure to do so could result in his suspension or dismissal...
According to his website, Prof. Marcy has been on the Berkeley faculty since 1999 and was an undergrad at UCLA. He received his PhD from UC-Santa Cruz. See 
It was reported earlier that a group of colleagues had urged his dismissal. See

UPDATE: Inside Higher Ed has an extended article on this case:

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