Boston University Terminates Professor Over Sexual Harassment
Boston University has fired one of its faculty members for violating its sexual harassment policies during field expeditions in Antarctica in 1997 and in 1999–2000, the university president announced last week.
David Marchant, who was a tenured earth and environment professor, was terminated last week after the school’s Board of Trustees upheld university president Dr. Robert A. Brown’s recommendation of ending Marchant’s faculty appointment.
“As president of the University, I then faced the task to accept or reject the faculty panel’s recommendation, which ran contrary to that of the provost,” Brown wrote in a letter to the faculty members. “After careful review of all relevant evidence, including the investigative reports from the EOO, I decided that the appropriate sanction in this matter is termination.”
After a 13-month-long investigation in 2017 by the Equal Opportunity Office, Marchant was suspended for three years without pay and prohibited from leading university Antarctic expeditions after sexually harassing his former graduate student, Jane Willenbring, according to an article published by the Science magazine.
The investigation concluded that his “conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive so as to create a hostile learning and living environment at the camp.”
In her complaint from October 2016, Willenbring, who is now an associate professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California alleged Marchant of sexual harassment, throwing stones at her while she was urinating, blowing volcanic ash in her eyes and threatening her with retaliation if she did not provide positive feedback for his tenure promotion file.
Meanwhile, Marchant has continued to maintain his innocence and has alleged the university’s Title IX investigation of treating him unfairly.
“David Marchant continues to maintain that he has never engaged in any form of sexual harassment, not in 1998 or 1999 in Antarctica or at any time since,” Jeffrey Sankey, Marchant’s attorney, said in a statement.
“The Title IX process at Boston University has been a travesty, operated by an administration who has capitulated at every turn to the fear of adverse publicity at the expense of providing due process to an esteemed professor who has worked for nearly 20 years since these false allegations supposedly occurred without a single complaint.”
Marchant plans to challenge the termination order in the court.