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UR appoints independent investigation into EEOC complaint

The University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees has appointed a special committee to oversee an independent investigation into an equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) complaint against professor T. Florian Jaeger.

The complaint, filed Sept. 1, characterizes Jaeger as a manipulative sexual predator, using his high-ranking stature as a professor in the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences to sexually coerce students, throw drug-fueled “lab retreats” and academically or socially sabotage women who did not heed his sexual advances. The complaint also alleges a policy of retaliation by the university against students and professors who spoke out against Jaeger.

Two university investigations into Jaeger, during one of which he was promoted to full tenured professor, found no violation of school policy. However, the complaint, as well as many student voices, claims the investigations failed to take into account key evidence, including emails, texts and Facebook messages.

The controversy ignited a firestorm on campus last week, as students called for the immediate firing of Jaeger and Levy, as well as the resignation of President Joel Seligman.

“I welcome this independent investigation by the Board and assure the complete cooperation of the University and its staff,” Seligman said, in a statement. “Students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public deserve a full and transparent accounting on this matter.”

The special committee has named Mary Jo White as lead of the investigation. Current Senior Chair of NYC-based legal firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, White previously served as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. During her career, White engaged in numerous investigations of sexual misconduct in academic and other institutions, including the 2004 investigation into Albany Roman-Catholic Bishop Howard Hubbard. Hubbard was eventually cleared of wrong-doing.

The investigation is scheduled to report to the committee by Dec. 31.

“This is a matter of utmost importance to the entire University community, and the Special Committee will conduct its investigation with complete independence, with access to all relevant information, and receive total cooperation from the University,” Chairman Danny Wegman said.

Jaeger has been put on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

One comment

  1. It would indeed be healthy for the university to have an independent investigation. Unfortunately, this appears to be far from that goal. The “independent” investigation will be conducted by a committee formed by members of the board itself, lead by a lawyer who is advertised as the “leader of the firm’s Strategic Crisis Response and Solutions Group. Her practice focuses on counseling boards of directors and representing clients on significant and sensitive matters, including companies facing crises involving multi-faceted government investigations and cases.” So is the goal to find the truth, or to deal with the crisis?

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