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University of Rochester president resigns after controversial handling of sexual harassment complaint
14 January 2018, 09:43 | Devin Moran
“Inappropriate, Unprofessional and Offensive”—But Not Breaking Any of University of Rochester's Rules
The University of Rochester professor at the center of a sexual misconduct complaint that divided a prominent department and led the university president to resignapologized Friday to his students and colleagues for the distress and disruption it has caused.
Just hours after White published her findings, the university's board of trustees announced that president Joel Seligman will resign on February 28.
Research professor Florian Jaeger made national headlines a year ago after allegations arose that he had harassed and engaged in sexual relationships with his students. Although the investigation cleared Seligman of wrongdoing-and also exonerated the accused, brain science professor Florian Jaeger, of violating university policies-critics praised his departure.
Enter Feldman, who served as Dean of the college from 2006 through 2017.
Seth Pollak, a distinguished professor of psychology and professor of anthropology, pediatrics, psychiatry and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who signed the open letter against advising students to work or study at Rochester, said Thursday that he hoped Seligman's resignation was a step in the right direction for the campus.
Seligman also talked about the report released this week through an independent investigation, which he feels was largely on the mark, and he lamented what he says was a rush to judgement on allegations rather than evidence.
University of Rochester mostly vindicated by probe into sexual harassment scandal involving 'predator professor'
Mary Jo White, leader of the investigation into the accusations has stated that "We do not believe that any potential claimant or plaintiff would be able to sustain a legal claim for sexual harassment in violation of federal law".
In a statement, Professor T. Florian Jaeger said he could have shown more maturity when he arrived as a 31-year-old faculty member in 2007 and over time has improved.
The allegations against Jaeger were first raised publicly by a group of faculty members last September, after they filed their EEOC complaints. But it did recommended that UR clarify and expand its procedures for dealing with sexual harassment by faculty members. The professors argue that this is a fatal flaw.
Richard N. Aslin, a fellow complainant and former professor in the department who now works at Haskins Laboratories, said that the report criticizes him and his colleagues for taking things "into our own hands" while simultaneously admitting that Rochester's internal investigation was incomplete.
Update, January 11, 6:10 p.m.: At a press conference on Thursday evening, the complainants said they would continue to pursue their case against UR in court, arguing that the report's findings about Jaeger's behavior-contrary to White's conclusions-actually support some of the central arguments of their lawsuit. "It is not acceptable to say that people have behaved offensively and inappropriately to our students, but nobody did anything wrong". "Here we are in a situation in which she says students suffered experiences they never should have had to endure", said former department chair Elissa Newport, one of the complainants.
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