For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena has suspended a faculty member for gender-based harassment. The researcher has been stripped of his university salary and barred from campus for 1 year, is undergoing personalized coaching to become a better mentor, and will need to prove that he has been rehabilitated before he can resume advising students without supervision. Caltech has not curtailed his research activities.
Except, of course, that he wasn’t allowed to set foot on campus, which does tend to curtail one’s research activities.
This was part of a wave of belated actions by universities against their superstars who harrassed colleagues and students. It was good to see, but they could have been even tougher in handling the bad boys.
Well, his year-long suspension is up, and Christian Ott has resigned, as he should have on day one. Now the question remains: will some other university ignore his ugly history and scoop him up? Or will his behavior have effectively demolished his career? I suspect the former, but think the latter would be more just. We really don’t need more people who are contemptuous of the dignity of women in academia.
Don’t weep for Ott, though! While he may be a lousy candidate for the professoriate, he is still fully qualified for the American presidency!