Geoff Marcy is resigning from Berkeley

Dennis Overybye reports in the Times:

Geoffrey Marcy, the renowned astronomer who was found guilty ina campus investigation of sexually harassing students, is resigning from the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he has been a professor for 16 years.

In an email to members of the astronomy department on Wednesday, the interim chairman of the department, Gibor Basri, wrote, “This is to inform our community that Geoff has initiated the process that will lead to his no longer being a faculty member at U.C. Berkeley.”

In a statement announcing Dr. Marcy’s resignation, the university’s chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, and the executive vice chancellor and provost, Claude Steele, said they had accepted Dr. Marcy’s resignation and added: “We want to state unequivocally that Professor Marcy’s conduct, as determined by the investigation, was contemptible and inexcusable. We also want to express our sympathy to the women who were victimized, and we deeply regret the pain they have suffered.”

Better late than never, I guess.

The announcement of Dr. Marcy’s resignation came two days after some two dozen colleagues — an overwhelming majority of the astronomy department — issued a vote of no confidence in a letter saying they believed that he could no longer “perform the functions of a faculty member.” In separate statements, the department’s graduate studentsand postdoctoral fellows concurred.

“This should put sexual harassers on notice: No one is too big to fail,” Joan Schmelz, a former chairwoman of the American Astronomical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, said Wednesday.

Azeen Ghorayshi has more at BuzzFeed:

“It’s a relief to know that Geoff Marcy will no longer have access to UC Berkeley students,” Jessica Kirkpatrick, one of the complainants in the sexual harassment investigation, told BuzzFeed News. “I hope the university is using this opportunity to re-evaluate it’s process and policies so that vulnerable students have better protections in place to guard against sexual harassment from faculty moving forward.”

Many academics are upset that Berkeley didn’t take stronger disciplinary actions against Marcy after the investigation concluded that he had violated sexual harassment policies. He was given a “strict set of behavioral standards” to follow, and was told that if another complaint was filed, he could be sanctioned or fired.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the university defended its decision not to fire Marcy, citing University of California policy.

“UC Berkeley’s reaction to the finding that Professor Geoff Marcy violated the University’s sexual harassment policies has been the subject of understandable criticism and anger,” Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele, said in the statement.

“We want to state unequivocally that Professor Marcy’s conduct, as determined by the investigation, was contemptible and inexcusable.”

I wonder if there will be another uproar about political correctness persecuting a great scientist.

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