University Of Rochester President Resigns After Sexual Harassment Accusations

Dr. Florian Jaeger

In a joint complaint, at least four Rochester students alleged that the university didn't do enough to protect them from Jaeger, noting that the professor was promoted in the midst of an investigation into his behavior. "It is not acceptable to say people have behaved offensively and inappropriately to our students, but nobody did anything wrong".

A statement from the university says that Seligman informed the Board of Trustees of his intention to resign Thursday morning, before he or any member of the board had received the report.

UR properly addressed the workplace sexual conduct of Professor T. Florian Jaeger, though it could have done better, according to a long-awaited investigation report released Thursday.

The university ordered the probe after several faculty members filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

His conduct was at times "inappropriate", "blurred personal and professional boundaries", and "created a negative academic environment for some BCS students", but was "permitted by UR policy" at the time. Jaeger wasn't investigated for sexual harassment until 2016. The professors argue that this is a fatal flaw.

Concerns about campus climate reached new highs in November, when hundreds of professors from around the world signed an open letter saying they wouldn't advise their students to study or work at Rochester.

A special investigator has been hired from outside the university to lead the investigation into the accusations against the university's president.

"The report admits students suffered from his actions". She said she changed her course of research because of it.

"There is no evidence of which we are aware that Jaeger ever engaged in so-called quid pro quo sexual harassment or ever had any nonconsensual sexual contact with any person", she said.

White recommended a strict ban on sexual relationships between faculty and students, and urged the administration to facilitate extensive staff training on how to spot and prevent sexual harassment. The report finds the university did not act in error, but it did find that when a graduate student first reported Jaeger in 2013, and Jaeger's department chair first spoke to him about the concerns, the university neglected to recognize the complaint as potentially involving sexual harassment.

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"It is clear to me that the best interests of the University are best served with new leadership, and a fresh perspective to focus on healing our campus and moving us forward in a spirit of cooperation and unity", Seligman said.

The board of trustees said it had "many serious decisions to make in the days ahead".

Last month, the group that filed the EEOC complaints followed up with a lawsuit against UR, its provost, and Seligman. The report brought no closure or justice, she said.

Attorney Ann Olivarius, who represents the complainants, calls the report incomplete and inaccurate. Seligman's departure is only further "confirmation that our actions were justified", he said. Because of the pending legal case, they declined to participate in interviews with White's investigators.

Aslin said that the independent investigation, which cost Rochester $4.5 million, is little more than an attempt to "minimize the legal damage, which we will vigorously contest in federal court next month".

"I would have to say that President Seligman's resignation is some vindication that what we were doing (raising the complaints) is right", Richard Aslin, a University of Rochester researcher who sued Seligman and the institution for improperly investigating Jaeger and retaliating against those who complained, tells the Democrat & Chronicle.

"The report describes Florian Jaeger", Kidd said, "as the predator I know him to be".

"How many cases does it take to meet a threshold of pervasive?" he asked.

White's 213-page final report, now available online, largely vindicates the university's initial 2016 investigation, concluding that it had acted in "good faith, impartially, professionally", and in accordance with its own policies. "They attacked [us] to the point that our colleagues [were no longer willing to work with us]", said Jessica Cantlon, an associate professor who is in the process of leaving the department for a post at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

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