U. of Chicago Scientist Resigns Amid Sexual-Misconduct Investigation

A prominent molecular biologist at the University of Chicago has resigned after an investigation there concluded with a recommendation that he be fired for violating the university’s sexual-misconduct policy, The New York Times reports.

The professor, Jason Lieb, made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students at an off-campus retreat and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent,” states a letter describing the investigation that was obtained by the Times.

The letter is signed by Sarah Wake, an assistant provost at Chicago and director of its Office for Equal Opportunity Programs. “In light of the severity and pervasiveness of Professor Lieb’s conduct,” she writes, “and the broad, negative impact the conduct has had on the educational and work environment of students, faculty, and staff, I recommend that the university terminate Professor Lieb’s academic appointment.”

Mr. Lieb stepped down last month before any action was taken. He did not respond to the Times’s requests for comment.

His resignation comes amid increasingly urgent calls for universities to be more transparent about sexual harassment in their science departments. Last fall a prominent astronomer resigned his post at the University of California at Berkeley after astronomers across the country expressed outrage that the university had not punished him more harshly when it found him responsible for harassing female graduate students over a decade.

And last month a U.S. representative from California used a floor speech in Congress to shine a light on a practice among universities of passing harassers from one institution to another.

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