Dean recommends Lawrence Krauss’s dismissal from Arizona State University; Krauss is appealing

According to the State Press, Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) student newspaper (click on link below), Patrick Kenney, Dean of ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has recommended that physicist Lawrence Krauss be dismissed from the University for sexual misconduct.

This is the latest development in a series of events beginning with a BuzzFeed expose of Krauss’s sexual misconduct (the accusations were of varying credibility), and then ASU’s own investigation, which resulted in Krauss being removed as director of ASU’s Origin project and also removed from his academic chair as a Foundation Professor. This is the latest step in a procedure that could result in his complete dismissal from ASU.

 

According to the report, Krauss, who has been on paid leave from ASU, is appealing this decision to a “conciliation committee,” and has two layers of appeal beyond that:

But dismissing a tenured faculty member is difficult. According to Crow, Krauss’s case is in the process of being reviewed by a series of faculty committees that will help determine his future as a tenured professor at ASU.

“We have eliminated his role as director of Origins, his academic chair, and the dean has recommended that his tenure be revoked,” Crow said. “The last stage of the process is, what does the rest of the faculty think about that? And then they make a recommendation to me, and then I make a decision.”

This process is outlined by the Arizona Board of Regents and is therefore similar among all three in-state universities. According to ABOR guidelines, faculty members can appeal recommendations of dismissal to the university president, who will refer the case to a conciliation or mediation process. In these processes, committees attempt to help the faculty member recommended for dismissal and the university official who made the recommendation “arrive at a mutually agreed upon solution.”For example, the faculty member might offer to resign rather than face dismissal.

If a resolution is not reached within 30 days, the university president will re-issue a written notice of dismissal to the faculty member. However, the president can extend this deadline to a total of 60 days if they believe a successful resolution is possible.

At this point, the faculty member recommended for dismissal can appeal the decision to the university’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. This committee will then hold hearings at which “the university bears the burden of proving the existence of just cause by a preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, the university has to prove that the majority of the evidence supports the faculty member’s dismissal.

After the hearings, the committee issues recommendations to the university president regarding the dismissal. The president’s ultimate decision, however, is not bound to the committee’s recommendations.

The BuzzFeed allegations were not dispositive for me, but I did my own digging and came up with other cases that convinced me that Krauss habitually engaged in sexual misconduct. I wrote this on March 10:

After that article appeared, I did some digging on my own, and came up with three cases that have convinced me that Krauss engaged in sexual predation of both a physical nature (groping) and of a verbal nature (offensive and harassing comments).  The allegations that convinced me are not public, but the accusers are sufficiently credible that I believe their claims to be true. Further, these claims buttress the general allegation of sexual misbehavior made in BuzzFeed. In my view, then, Krauss had a propensity to engage in sexual misconduct. I therefore disassociate myself from the man. He has, of course, denied every allegation in the BuzzFeedarticle, but the cases that pushed me to write this post aren’t in that piece. But to me these other cases make it likely that at least some of the allegations in BuzzFeed are true.

I am not of course aware of the evidence that ASU considered in its decision, as those matters are confidential. Krauss has unconditionally denied all the allegations in the BuzzFeed article, but the incidents of which I am aware have not been addressed by  Krauss or ASU. And, as before, I am not making them public because I was asked to keep them confidential.

As for the recommendation of dismissal, it’s one way to keep women in Krauss’s professional ambit from experiencing sexual predation. Rehabilitation is another, but I don’t know how this can be done in an academic setting; and of course that eliminates the deterrent effect, which is important given the ubiquity of allegations (and admission) of sexual predation in academia. Some might argue that his removal as head of the Origins Project and loss of his chair is already a deterrent. Regardless, no woman should be exposed to such behavior—in the workplace or anywhere else.

33 Comments

  1. Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The impression I’ve gotten is that Krauss made clumsy, sleazy unwelcome passes at various women.
    Theres something I’ve been reflecting on recently. I know of many people, including myself, who’ve dealt with bullying abusive bosses in the workplace. The last job I had lasted 15 years and the boss had a reputation among everyone in the field as an extraordinary bully. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that the constant stress I was under has taken time off my lifespan…and I’ve heard similar stories from others. The thing is, as long as there is no sexual component to it this behavior is deemed acceptable in society nowadays. I think we need to be consistent. After putting general laws in place to prevent abuse we agree that people have to take some initiative in standing up for themselves.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      “The thing is, as long as there is no sexual component to it this behavior is deemed acceptable in society nowadays.”

      Even where I to grant that this is so I think there is no question that adding a sexual component to it would absolutely make such a situation much worse and absolutely worthy of greater disapproval from society and more dire consequences. Having your boss be an asshole is bad. Having your boss sexually harass you, or worse sexually assault you, is much worse.

      It seems to me that many men don’t understand at a gut level what it is like for a woman to be the target of this kind of behavior. We are quite different when it comes to sex after all. If you have a daughter try visualizing your daughter working for your asshole boss and then add routine sexual harassment to his general assholery. Including sexually suggestive comments, groping, threats. Envision your daughter caught by him in the copy room during the company Christmas party forcing himself on her.

      If you don’t have a daughter try imagining yourself in the same position, with your boss being physically stronger than you such that it would be very difficult to get away from him if he was determined to corner you and feel you up. I’ve run such scenarios in my head more than once in my life. I’m sure I don’t completely understand what it’s like for women in such situations but having a wife, and other women in my life, that have been sexually assaulted and having a daughter who’s well being is a continuous, nerve wracking priority, I think I have some idea. One thing is very clear to me. Sexual assault is much worse than an asshole boss minus sexual assault.

      But I don’t think your premise is accurate either. Not completely. By far not all society deems asshole bosses to be acceptable. Plenty of people find it unacceptable. Even plenty of large companies. I’ve never tolerated it in my supervisors. Yeah, there are still people who do find that kind of thing acceptable. Real manly men in particular take things like that as a badge of honor. But, no, it isn’t uniformly acceptable. Not by a long shot. And it shouldn’t be. Expecting people to stand up for themselves is all well and good, up to a point. The point at which that expectation provides cover for the assholes is well past that point.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • E Manekaf
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        I don’t particularly disagree with you, however, this particular sentence stood out to me:

        > We are quite different when it comes to sex after all.

        I do not disagree with that statement at all.

        To somewhat veer off from the original topic, it seems to me that women don’t understand what it is like for men to be fed such mixed messages as “We are quite different when it comes to sex […]” and “Women are equal to men”, and even some more extreme slogans. The two ideas cannot logically coexist, and I think what you perceive as men in general lacking a gut-level understanding is actually a large percentage of men who cannot reconcile being constantly told one thing and then a second later being told the opposite by the same people and being expected to accept both statements as true.

        Men fundamentally cannot completely understand the female experience, but men are also not clueless. The vast majority of men HATE sexual predators and, although they would not tell women or today’s authority figures this, would commit violence against such predators if they had the social permission to do so. But when men are then told all sorts of contradictory things about women by women, how exactly are men supposed to understand anything about them? No, we men do not understand what it is to be sexually victimized as a woman, but it doesn’t logically follow that we don’t see such acts to be wrong.

        In actuality, there’s more men out there than you may think who can relate to women in this regard. There are far few female sexual predators(perhaps deviants, if speaking in strictly lesser degrees such as inappropriate touching, etc.), but they are out there and largely fly under the radar. As a man, I’ve been inappropriately touched and propositioned by women on the job, but nobody takes you seriously as a man, and it’s extremely humiliating for a man to paint himself in a way that portrays him as powerless or a victim. I’ve met multiple women in their 30s and older who have had sex with underage boys, but society does not take such issues seriously. A woman *might* go to prison for a short period of time, and in general women who commit rape against boys suffer far less in consequence than men for the same crimes, and sometimes they’ll even be celebrated for it.

        This isn’t to try and redirect women’s issues towards men’s issues, but I point that out the incongruity between what women are telling men and what they’re expecting of men. 99% of women I’ve brought up such facts with are completely oblivious to them and about how men actually perceive women.

        I support men and women working together in workplaces, but if the system is going to work equitably for both sexes, there needs to be a national discussion about what we can actually agree upon when it comes to women. As long as both men and women are being simultaneously told messages like “gender is a social construct” and “women need (X) special treatment”, then you’ll continue to see men and women relate to each other less and less.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

          You start off by saying that women being equal to men, and women having a different attitude to sex than men being a mixed message. It’s not.

          Basically what most women want is to be treated as equals. That is not inconsistent with a different attitude to sex in most, but not all, cases.

          Do men make suggestive comments to each other about their appearance in the work place or anywhere else? Or ogle their bodies? Do you see women leering at a large crotch? Do women look at a man’s crotch when they’re talking to them rather than their face? No. So why should women have to put up with those things?

          In general, men are physically larger than women and even when they’re not, men are usually still physically stronger. Men have more muscle, and more upper body strength. In most cases, we are physically vulnerable to men and it is extremely frightening when we are cornered and feel we cannot get away. Until you have felt that fear, you cannot understand it. Most men feel they could at least fight their way out of that situation, but most women don’t and couldn’t. Women usually don’t corner men in the same way i.e. so they can’t get away, though if they do they should suffer the same consequences as man should.

        • darrelle
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          I am a heterosexual male. I am not sure what you mean by women sending mixed messages, but I can guess that you are referring to one of 2 or 3 ancient stereotypes men have about women. I’ll be straightforward, I think they are all bullshit. All of these complaints evolved in a culture in which women were lower class than men. Lower class by law and by social convention. Yes, social interaction can be tough. It’s not women’s fault.

          Female on male sexual abuse is a serious problem and should be dealt with as seriously as male on female sexual abuse should be, I agree. But the difference in magnitude of these problems is very large. It’s very large for at least two very good reasons. Our society has been male dominated for a long time and, in general, men are more aggressive and physically stronger than most women. The male on female sexual abuse is by far the bigger problem. That doesn’t mean we can’t also care about female on male sexual abuse, but bringing it up every time the much larger monster in the room is mentioned is a non sequitur at best.

          National discussion about what we can agree on when it comes to women? I am not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean that you think women should get together and tell men on a national level what they expect from men? What do we need to know? Do we need to be told by them that when they dress nice and smile at us that it isn’t necessarily an invitation to have sex with us? We should expect women to explain their coy behavior to all us men on a national level before we’ll try treating them equitably? That sounds like putting the burden on the victims. I think you are making this harder than it really is. All us men have to do is treat women with the same respect for their sovereignty as we expect others to treat us.

      • jhs
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:26 am | Permalink

        “Real manly men in particular take things like that as a badge of honor.”

        Real manly men! This makes me chuckle.

        I think people tolerate their mean bosses because they have no choice and want to keep their job.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      The sexual abuse (groping, pinches, unwelcome hugs) that I have observed has mostly been in more or less open social settings. So generally drunk girls making sudden attacks or clumsily trying to ‘woo’ me after a little bit of interaction, or reversely drunken boys doing the same against girls. More rarely same sex abuse, but it happens too. Dunno what the statistics say, but I remember the #MeToo US poll that had 5:1 females:males abused.

      I can imaging having abusive bosses is another degree of problem!

    • Posted October 8, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      When I was younger (much younger) I was sexually harassed by both gay men and women and although I remember the incidents well I don’t think they had an adverse affect on me. I’m inclined to agree with you that men would suffer fewer ill effect than women, on the other hand what about a man who suffers from acute anxiety vs. a resilient woman? I think that’s a problem with assuming we know how much harm was done based on which category we place the person.
      In support of my claim I’d appeal to the research ( which I believe got Robert Sapolsky started on his research program) that showed the male civil service workers in Britain in the 70s had several years taken off their lives (along with ill health) if they had an abusive aggressive boss at work.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        I was assaulted at various times by men and women, a couple of times at academic conferences. I’ve also experienced sexual harassment at work. These events didn’t seem to have major impacts on me at the time, but those things tend to linger below the surface and come back much later. I felt more strongly impacted by witnessing other people being harassed. And I’ve had my share of verbally/psychologically abusive superiors. It all goes into the pool. If each of these things lessens our lifespans, I’m not sure how anyone makes it past 40. There are lots of ways to be abusive and we should keep looking for ways to close all the loopholes.

    • Gabrielle
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      “The thing is, as long as there is no sexual component” to it this (bullying) behavior (it) is deemed acceptable in society nowadays.”

      In the US, the sexual component turns the bad boss behavior into gender-based discrimination, when is unlawful under the Civil Rights act of 1964. This is the basis for a person being able to file a complaint if they are being sexually harassed. It is the same as if a bad boss is targeting an employee because of their age, ethnic/racial/religious background, or a disability.

      However, if a bad boss is targeting a person simply because the boss doesn’t like the person, or doesn’t like their work style or how messy they keep their desk – well, that’s not illegal, and one can’t file a complaint about it. It’s frustrating (I’ve had bully bosses), but the law as it stands does not outlaw bullying in the workplace.

  2. Barry Lyons
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Here’s a workable solution for this ongoing problem.

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      +1 🙂

    • Bob Murray
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Bonus – Step 3: Save the company 23 cents on the dollar too.
      Winner winner, chicken dinner!

  3. wendell read
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    You are to be commended for you independent investigation in this matter.

    • Posted October 8, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure Iagree. Perhaps for doing the investigation, but not I think for stating “based on facts I will not reveal I think he is guilty.” Nullius in verba.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        Reasons for that! I would expect the targets would not want it out there since that can start a trail toward outing them.

        • Posted October 8, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Nonetheless, I will not consider accusations based on secret information that neither I nor the accused is privy too. Jerry is perfectly free to believe whatever he wishes but I do not approve of “trust me, I know based on secret facts”.
          Neither does the law btw. An opinion cannot be the basis of a libel judgment, unless it is based on a claim of undisclosed facts. Not that that is relevant here, there will be no suit by Krause.

          • Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

            PCC is not asking you to consider the accusations. He is explaining why he no longer supports Krauss.

            • darrelle
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

              It’s frustrating that you have to explain that.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Had to go back and review the article and information before saying anything here. Professor Krauss exhibits all the signs that match up with sexual harassment. There are many women with various stories regarding their experiences and they all indicate a person who does these things repeatedly. It is not a one off or two off situation, it is a history with him. It is classic and can only be denied by himself. If anything, I would say the University has been slow to take action, probably because of who it is and also because the University seldom has trained investigators to handle sexual harassment.

  5. Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    His behaviour is disappointing to say the least.
    Some may be interested to read Jenny Rohn https://cosmicshambles.com/words/blogs/jennyrohn/weve-been-strumiad

  6. Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    If Krauss had just claimed that all his instances of sexual harassment were just references to drinking games, he’d be fine now.

    • Richard Sanderson
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Or if he managed to “ZOOM” to the Dean’s Office to get his narrative established first, and then making sure the woman/women never took their complaint(s) further.

      Unlike a certain “professor” at Morris, Minnesota…..

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Krauss would’ve had to zoom so often, he could’ve served as a campus shuttle.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        My cousin was attacked by an ex-boyfriend. He had her up against a wall and had her hands around he throat. Just was sure she was going to die. Just as she was blacking out, she managed to grab a glass and smash it against the side of his head. That made him let go, and she fled.

        His new girlfriend is a police officer. She advised him to go straight to the police and report my cousin for attacking him, which he did. His girlfriend backed up his story, and my cousin was arrested and admitted smashing the glass on his head. His girlfriend advised him to get an order that she wasn’t allowed to come within 200 metres of him because he feared she’d assault him again!

        She was charged with assault, and plead guilty. She had a crap lawyer. At her trial, despite the judge basically saying she should be found not guilty because of the circumstances, she was found guilty because she said she did it. Luckily the judge just sentenced her to home detention and she didn’t have to go to prison. She’s a scientist. She wanted to go to he US on holiday with some friends. She couldn’t get a visa because of the assault conviction.

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          What a horrible story!

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted October 29, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            She’s very philosophical about it. I’m not sure I could be.

  7. Posted October 8, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Nina's Soap Bubble Box and commented:
    “Regardless, no woman should be exposed to such behavior—in the workplace or anywhere else.”

  8. Posted October 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    This is sad. Krauss was a good spokesperson for science brought down by his carnal appetite and abuse of position. His career is now in shambles.

    • Laurance
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I hate it when a person with so much going for him, a person who does useful and good work indulges in this kind of awful behavior.

  9. Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Krauss just needs to get himself picked by Trump for the Supreme Court. Problem solved.

    On a more serious note, I like the way the university and the ABOR system are handling the case. The accused gets a thorough hearing, but he can be booted out.


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