Leiden University boots out professor over intimidating behaviour

Part of the university. Photo: Vysotsky via Wikimedia Commons
Part of the university. Photo: Vysotsky via Wikimedia Commons

A professor at Leiden University has been dismissed following an investigation into allegations of (sexually) intimidating behaviour stretching over several years, the university has said in a statement.

Complaints against the professor, who has not been named, reportedly came from four female colleagues and were corroborated by several male witnesses.

University board chairwoman Annetje Ottow told university periodical Mare that the professor’s actions formed ‘a pattern of consistent badmouthing, abuse of power, gender discrimination, public humiliation and the threat of wrecking careers.’

Sexually charged remarks and at least one case of unwanted physical contact were also reported, she said.

A subsequent investigation by an independent committee found the complaints to be justified and barred the professor from taking up his post, including the supervision of PhD students and other teaching activities.

He has not been fired, however, because his scientific credentials have not been questioned and there is no reason to relieve him of his professorship, the university said. That means he can still do research on behalf of the university.

‘I’m embarrassed to death. He will never be welcome at this university again,’ Ottow told Mare. The university said it will be paying more attention to safety on the work floor in future.

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