A college dean has recommended prominent theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was accused of sexual harassment, be fired from Arizona State University.
TheState Press, ASU’s independent student newspaper, reported that College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Patrick Kenney reccommommended Krauss’ dismissal. The university confirmed the accuracy of the State Press report.
But there are still other reviews the university has to undertake before Krauss, a tenured professor, could be dismissed.
Earlier this year, the university did not renew Krauss’ role as director of the Origins Project, a center that holds workshops on the origins of the universe and life.
ASU President Michael Crow told the State Press‘ editorial board about Kenney’s recommendation in September, the paper reported. Crow told them the university had stripped Krauss of roles that it was in full control of.
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“We have eliminated his role as director of Origins, his academic chair, and the dean has recommended that his tenure be revoked,” Crow told the publication. “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.”
Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist whose work includes the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock that inches closer to midnight as the threat of nuclear annihilation increases. He also is an outspoken atheist.
He remains on paid leave at the university while the process plays out. Reached by email, Krauss said there have been no changes to his status at the university since July.
“The University procedure, which has been ongoing, is confidential, and I for one do not want to violate that admonition,” Krauss said.
Krauss was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women in a February Buzzfeed News story, which included allegations of inappropriate comments and behavior. He has denied the allegations.
The university told Melanie Thomson, an Australian professor who said she witnessed Krauss grab a woman’s breast while taking a photo at a convention in Australia, that it had concluded the event violated the school’s sexual harassment policy, the State Press previously reported.
How the process works
According to policies set by the Arizona Board of Regents, Krauss is entitled to several layers of review before he can be fired.
First, the dean of a professor’s school can recommend a faculty member be dismissed, which is what Kenney did. Then, the faculty member can challenge the recommendation in what is called a conciliation or mediation, and a conciliation committee comprised of faculty members is set up.
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Krauss is in the conciliation process right now, a university spokesman said. Kenney, Krauss and the president of the University Senate all appointed one member to serve on the committee.
The conciliation committee’s goal is to find a “mutually agreed upon solution,” according to Board of Regents’ policy.
If the conciliation process fails, Crow can issue a written notice of dismissal. Krauss could then appeal this notice to the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure and receive a hearing.
The committee makes a recommendation to Crow, who then makes a decision on dismissal. Krauss has another opportunity to ask for reconsideration before a final decision from Crow.
The entire process can take many months.