Category Archives: sexual misconduct

Louisville President James Ramsey finally falls on his sword

After a string of controversies , on Wednesday trustees of University of Louisville accepted the resignation of long-serving President James Ramsey. For 14 years Ramsey oversaw the evolution of the University into a distinguished research institution and top education facility, but his tenure became increasingly marked by complacency around a raft of scandals.

In 2015 the writing was on the wall for Ramsey after several university officials sentences to prison for fraud and embezzlement of more than $7 million in university funds. Further, an investigation was announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) into former university basketball coach Andre McGee allegedly paying for strippers and sex for players and recruits. Ramsey personally courted controversy when he was accused of racial insensitivity after posing for a photograph at a university Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican garb (he has since issued a public apology). It was enough to convince critics that Ramsey was out of touch with contemporary standards of probity.

Earlier this year, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced that a new board of trustees would be convened and Ramsey would be leaving the University in the near future. Ramsey, who was on a $2.5 million salary, will receive a $690,000 payout. University Provost Neville Pinto will be acting President while the board seeks a new President.

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CCC report on former Murdoch University VC released

After almost two years since a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC)-backed investigation commenced into allegations of misconduct against former Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Richard Higgott, the CCC report has been released. Professor Higgott was found to have engaged in one instance of serious misconduct and two instances of lesser misconduct.

The released details read like a Mills and Boon novel, referring to endearing email letters between Higgott (aka, “My Dearest Higgy”) and Provost Ann Capling (aka, “Capling my luv”), betrayal between  Higgott and Murdoch University Chancellor David Flanagan, and climaxing with a dose of steamy sexual smut in the form of Higgott’s downloading habits of adult material.

The CCC found that Professor Higgott engaged in serious misconduct by effectively rigging the appointment process surrounding the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) position awarded to Ann Capling, and in less serious misconduct in misleading Flanagan and the CCC over the appointment and dismissal of DVC Jon Baldwin and for downloading adult material (and subsequently trying to scrub it) in breach of University internet use policy. Matters noted by the CCC but not addressed in its findings were allegations around credit card misuse by Professor Higgott and the destruction of documents.

The CCC states early in the report that “although this report details the conduct of one person, there are wider lessons of governance for universities in Western Australia.” However, while the CCC report emphasises the need for more diligence concerning credit card use, recruitment and communication between University Senate and Management, much of the wider implications of the findings are lost in the melodrama surrounding the juicy details of Higgott’s deceit.

His deceit not only involved misleading Chancellor Flanagan on various matters, in particular the dismissal of Deputy Vice Chancellor Jon Baldwin, but also misleading Sir Nigel Thrift, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick, surrounding the poaching of Jon Baldwin initially. Higgott, who remains Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Warwick and has reportedly been based there since his controversial departure from Murdoch University, may well encounter some raised eyebrows around its campus following release of the CCC’s report.

What the CCC report fails to do is reveal details about other matters that occurred during Higgott’s tenure, including the conduct of Ann Capling and Karen Lamont (since resigned) who feature prominently in the report, but more as background characters implicated in the web of deceit spun by Higgott. Questions about the appointment of other senior officers at Murdoch University during Higgott’s tenure, including the Deans that administer the Schools within the University, were not dealt with in the report. There is also no indication of what further action (if any) would be taken, with the CCC seemingly satisfied with Higgott’s dismissal from Murdoch University (which occurred in September 2014) and assurances by current management that its policies have been reviewed and revised in the interim.

Suspicion that the CCC investigation would seek to be little more than a scapegoating exercise designed to dismiss what is but one of many failings in Murdoch University’s chequered  management history might only harden with the release of the report. Clearly, the CCC report has chosen to focus on only a few matters and only one individual among those initially referred to it by Chancellor Flanagan. Unfortunately the more extant matters covered in the Price Waterhouse & Cooper and KPMG reports submitted to Chancellor Flanagan and which formed the basis for the CCC’s findings are unlikely to see the light of day.

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Berkeley sexual misconduct fallout

The University of California’s Berkeley campus is under attack from its own senior academics for failing to  adequately deal with an array of cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Following criticisms of its handling of UC astronomer Geoffrey Marcy’s case of sexual harassment of students, other cases have come to light of the senior leadership’s failure to adequately discipline other staff for sexual harassment.

The dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, Sujit Choudhry, was fined 10% of his annual salary for one year after being found to have sexually harassed his executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, After Sorrell initiated a civil suit against the university for its light punishment of Choudhry last month,  UC president Janet Napolitano called on the campus to dismiss Choudhry.

Napolitano also terminated former vice-chancellor (research) Graham Fleming from the role of Berkeley Global Campus ambassador. Fleming had been accused of harassing his assistant, Diane Leite, but a University’s investigation in 2014 did not discipline Fleming. Afterwards he resigned as VC, but stayed on as a tenured faculty member. Unrelated to the matter, Ms Leite was fired in 2012 for improperly increasing the salary of a fellow staff member with whom she was engaged in a sexual relationship.

Currently Yann Hufnagel, the coach of the men’s basketball team, is under investigation for sexually harassing a journalist. He is alleged to have made unwanted sexual advances towards the journalist and offered her access to the sports industry in return for sex.

Members of the Berkeley Faculty Association have requested a “special meeting” of the Academic Senate to discuss the University’s handling of sexual harassment cases.  Professor of sociology Michael Burawoy, co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association, has described senior leaders of engaging in “cover-ups” design to “keep the university pure and attractive to parents who send their children here and donors who send their money.”

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Former IAE Toulon president on trial for accepting bribes and sexual favours

A former president of the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises (IAE) in Toulon, France, will go on trial on Monday for corruption. Prosecutors will allege that Laroussi Oueslati accepted bribes of up to €3,000 from overseas Chinese students and also sexual favours in return for setting aside French language proficiency requirements for their enrolment.

Others also facing charges are a university administrator and four Chinese former students. Two further former students who fled to China following news of the scandal in 2009 have been issued arrest warrants.

If found guilty, Mr Oueslati could face 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to €150,000. Mr Oueslati has professed his innocence. 

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UCLA astronomer resigns after allegations of sexual harassment

University of California (UCLA) professor of astronomy, Geoffrey Marcy, has resigned after a six-month investigation found he had sexually harassed up to four students. Details of the investigation have not been released, but UCLA’s Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele called Marcy’s behaviour “contemptible and inexcusable” and extended their sympathies to the victims. The allegations are thought to have included uninvited massages and other unwanted attention.

UCLA’s management had earlier been criticised for not dismissing Marcy in the wake of the investigation, instead choosing to an agreement with the Vice Provost for Faculty Janet Broughton that placed restrictions on Marcy’s interaction with students. This week, 25 members of Berkeley’s astronomy department issued a letter saying that Marcy was no longer fit “to perform the functions of a faculty member.”

In an open letter posted on his Stanford website, Marcy apologised for his behaviour and expressed his desire to improve his behaviour. The American Astronomical Society is considering expelling Marcy as a member.

UCLA has convened a committee of administrators, faculty and students to review how complaints against tenured faculty are handled. Its recommendations will be made by 29th February 2016.

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Wits University dismisses seedy lecturers

Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, has completed its removal of the final lecturer, international relations lecture Dr Lord Mawuko-Yevugah, who was accused of committing sexual harassment of students. The clean-out earlier in the year began when it emerged in media reports that former lecturer Tshepo wa Mamatu was sexually harassing his students. Similar cases then were reported. Drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu, political studies professor Rupert Taylor, and media studies lecturer Dr Last Moyo were dismissed.

witscampusAn inquiry commissioned by the University found that there was a culture of sexual exploitation of students rife in some Departments. The commission also learned that despite the incidents being reported by students, that staff handling the claims were either reluctant or unknowledgeable about dealing with the claims. In one case a complainant was waiting two years for their matter to be heard.

The report states that students felt their complaints were treated with “mistrust and suspicion” by university staff. Consequently: “There is a view that in order to get the university to take sexual harassment seriously, it is necessary to use the public media.”

This reiterates the findings from a study by Joubert, van Wyk an Rothmann pubished in SAJHRM (9,1) in 2011, which stated that administrative staff generally have insufficient training and support to deal properly with sexual harassment claims.

After the release of the Committee report, the university formed a senior executive team to deal with the issues raised. Led by Professor Bonita Meyersfeld, the team has proposed “an adequate sexual harassment structure” that vows to employ a zero policy towards cases of sexual misconduct.

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University of North Carolina’s handling of sexual assaults questioned

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uncThe University of North Carolina is being investigated by the U.S. Education Department after five women complained that the university mishandled sexual assault cases on campus.

Another woman mentioned in the report was Landen Gambill, a UNC sophomore who recently made headlines in The Washington Post when UNC threatened to expel her for going public about her allegation of being raped on campus. The case had previously been dismissed by the UNC Honor Court as lacking credibility because she did not immediately leave her boyfriend after the incident and because she was clinically depressed. The incident led to student demonstrations and, ultimately, the federal complaint, with other women coming forward. It was claimed that the university pressured plaintiff and former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning to under-report sexual violence cases on campus.

The university said in a statement that it would “cooperate fully with the investigation.” It has been asked to turn over details of all student complaints of sexual harassment between 2011-13 school years by March 21. The Department will examine whether the university responded appropriately to complaints, provided appropriate advice for follow-up procedures for those lodging a grievance, adequately investigated complaints and provided appropriate training to staff and administrators on how to deal with cases related to sexual harassment and assault.

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