Jack Horner, the paleontologist who was the model for Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park, has been ‘forced out’ of his position at the Museum of the Rockies, and is now working at the Burke Museum in Seattle. Good for the Burke, was my first thought, but the second was, “Why is the Museum of the Rockies kicking out their most famous scientist?” Then I read the story.
First reasonable reason — he’s 70. That’s a good age to step back from the grind…but ask me again in 10 years.
The second reason Horner gives is politics. The second reason is that museum director Shelley McKamey, the museum director, is married to Pat Leiggi, director of paleontology and exhibits. He says they’ve had it in for him, and criticizes the fact that their marriage creates an automatic alliance that overpowers other obligations. He’s basically objecting to the marital status of other people at the museum, claiming it gives them an unfair advantage. Which answered nothing — why would the fact that a couple of museum directors are married mean he’d be squeezed out?
The problem started in 2012, Horner said, when he married then 19-year-old undergraduate student Vanessa Weaver. He “adored” Weaver, but the marriage was their way of telling the university — she wasn’t one of his students — to butt out of their relationship after Horner was instructed to officially disclose the nature of their relationship and was told they would be scrutinized.
“And then they could check on it and they could decide on it. They could come say anything they want, so we got married so we could do anything,” Horner said. “And through the whole thing she had a boyfriend. There wasn’t like something nefarious going on. I adore her. She’s adorable, obviously we really like each other.” They’re divorced now, but still friends.
McKamey and Leiggi “went apoplectic” over the marriage, Horner said. “Before that happened they were my best friends. They basically haven’t talked to me since.”
OK, so he was fooling around with a student who was less than a third of his age, and thought he could legitimize it with the university by entering into a sham marriage? I don’t think university’s objection would be to sexual activity out of wedlock — this is the 21st century, and as we all know, universities are bastions of liberalism — but to sexual activity with a student. Trying to get around that problem with what he openly admits was a fake marriage makes the problem worse.
And now he’s divorced? Does that mean he’s going to be looking for another sweet young thing?
Now I’m wondering if the Burke Museum is keeping an eye on him.