Friday, May 4, 2018

University of Minnesota biochemistry professor investigated for sexual harassment

It's not every day that you read this in the pages of a local alternative weekly (by Micah Emmel-Duke; via City Pages, the alt-weekly for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.): 
...“When are we going to have sex?” 
This is how University of Minnesota biochemistry professor Gianluigi Veglia often talked to and about the students and employees in his laboratory, according to two sexual misconduct investigations. His name is well known in his field. His curriculum vitae is 39 honor-filled pages long and meticulously lists the millions of dollars in grant funding he’s received through the years. He has taught at the U of M, which has shared in the bounty of his grant money, since 2000. 
“Take off your shirt so I can just see a little.” 
Accusers and witnesses detail many other instances of misconduct. Among the allegations: He told lab members he only hired them for their looks; he suggested women’s presentations would be more effective if they dressed in more revealing clothing; he told his female lab members (whom he frequently called “Veglia chicks”) to flirt with prospective students to entice them to join the lab; he even threatened to withhold Ph.D.s if complaints were filed. 
Veglia told investigators he simply hadn’t made many of these comments. Others, he said, were misinterpreted jokes or the vengeful lies of disgruntled and unsuccessful students. He declined to comment for this story. 
...Following the investigation, he was given typical sanctions, like attending sexual harassment training and meeting with his boss. A bigger blow was his removal as the director of the university’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center and the accompanying annual salary bonus of $10,000. 
Other sanctions sound tough but are not as harsh as they might seem. 
For example, Veglia isn’t allowed to supervise undergraduate students through the 2019-20 school year and was also removed from the two graduate programs he taught in, with his readmission to the programs contingent on his conduct, including “no reports of sexual harassment.” 
Veglia can still do research with graduate students and others, which means his federal funding will keep flowing into the school....
Here's the official investigation (what you can read, anyway). It's pretty remarkable to me that he wasn't fired. The miracles of tenure...

(The author of the piece is willing to be contacted about other instances of sexual harassment in the sciences, especially in Minnesota. micah.emmel.duke@gmail.com; Signal: 612-293-5088)

10 comments:

  1. Veglia means vigil or watch in Italian. It seems like he should be called Professor Porco (pig).

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  2. The Iron ChemistMay 4, 2018 at 9:20 AM

    How about, "Stronzo Bestiale?"

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  3. I wonder if he is European? Seems like a lot of continental Europeans don't understand american purtitan culture with regard to sex.

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    1. Are you trying to tell me that Europeans regularly ask their students when they're going to have sex or to take off their shirts?

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  4. 10000 dollars of salary saved every year - the University of Minnesota will be happy about the outcome.

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  5. The slaps on the wrist will continue until Veglia & friends are banned from federal grants.

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  6. Is this guy's creativity and expertise really so beyond what other mortals can do that he shouldn't be fired?

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  7. How much does Veglia bring in for grant money? At least for the U Cal system, $$$ trumps sexual harassment.

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    Replies
    1. That, unfortunately, is how it works at every university.

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  8. It seems like the most vocal supporters of womens' issues on my Facebook are academics, but they're willing to turn their beliefs on and off when it behooves their careers to do so. One minute, it's "rah-rah, women in STEM, yay," but the next minute, it's "Professor So-and-So brings in a lot of funding, so we're going to pretend we didn't see that complaint."

    Veglia would have either been fired or had his behavior nipped in the bud early in any industry job with a real HR department. Only in academia, or at a tiny company with no HR, could he have gotten away with this.

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