|I challenge UC's call. Credit: PFT|
...The professor, Jason Lieb, 43, made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students at an off-campus retreat of the molecular biosciences division, according to a university investigation letter obtained by The New York Times, and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.”
Dr. Lieb, who has received millions of dollars in federal grants over the last decade, did not respond to requests for comment.
“In light of the severity and pervasiveness of Professor Lieb’s conduct, and the broad, negative impact the conduct has had on the educational and work environment of students, faculty and staff, I recommend that the university terminate Professor Lieb’s academic appointment,” reads the letter, signed by Sarah Wake, assistant provost and director of the office for equal opportunity programs.
...Yoav Gilad, a molecular biologist at Chicago who was on the committee that advocated hiring Dr. Lieb, said he and his fellow faculty members knew that in February 2014 Dr. Lieb had abruptly resigned from Princeton University, just seven months after having been recruited from the University of North Carolina to run a high-profile genomics institute.
But Dr. Gilad said that when it was contacted, Princeton said there had been no sexual harassment investigation of Dr. Lieb while he was there. He said efforts to find out more about what prompted Dr. Lieb’s departure proved fruitless. A Princeton spokeswoman said the university does not comment on personnel matters.
Faculty at Chicago said that Dr. Lieb had told them during the interview process that Princeton faulted him for not informing them about a complaint of unwanted contact filed against him at North Carolina, where he had taught for 13 years. But he told them he had seen no reason to do so because the investigation had not found evidence to support the claim.
Subsequently, he gave permission to Princeton to examine his personnel file. Chicago, too, received permission to look at the file, Dr. Gilad said, adding that the examination of the records did not raise red flags.
Separately, Dr. Gilad acknowledged, during the interviews of Dr. Lieb, he admitted that he had had a monthslong affair with a graduate student in his laboratory at the University of North Carolina.
At Chicago, the hiring committee struggled, Dr. Gilad said, to balance a desire to protect students with a desire not to convict someone without evidence. He said Dr. Lieb had not been found guilty of any offense at North Carolina. The department of human genetics voted unanimously to hire him...I have got to ask: what the hell were these people thinking?** I know this sounds incredibly prudish of me, but you don't [defecate] where you eat. Sleeping with junior coworkers
Over the years that I've been involved in the interview process, I've rarely seen a red flag as big as Dr. Lieb's. In the one particular case I am thinking about, there did not appear to be any red flags that indicated the multitude of problems that were later encountered, although I suspect that stronger digging among references and references of references might have unearthed the issues that were ultimately encountered.
So, beloved reader, I ask you, what's the worst red flag (hidden or unhidden) that you've seen during interviews? What happened? And how can you make sure red flags are addressed?
*Academia seems to be rife with these stories; industry somewhat less so. Does this have to do with the incredibly large power differential between PI and lab worker, versus employer and employee? Signs point to yes!
**Yes, yes, I know that the hiring process for faculty is complicated and opaque and not particularly understandable to those who were not intimately involved in the process.
***Reworded on second thought.