ROCHESTER, N. Y. University of Rochester professor at the center of a sexual misconduct complaint that divided a prominent department and led the university president to resign apologized Friday to his students and colleagues for the distress and disruption caused.
In a statement , Professor T. Florian Jaeger said that he would have shown more maturity when he arrived as a 31-year-old member of the faculty in 2007 and in the course of time improved.
Jaeger’s statement came after a special commission’s report Thursday supporting the university find that Jaeger had not violated policy or law, while calling his behavior — including the intimate relationships with students, unprofessional and offensive.
The university of the treatment of complaints against Jaeger has led to protests, calls for President Joel Seligman’s resignation, an alumni petition demanding an apology and a letter signed by 400 teachers at other schools saying that they would send their students away from the University of Rochester.
Two professors who brought the claims have been included under the “silence breakers” as Time magazine 2017 persons of the year.
Seligman Thursday announced that he will retire next month, saying a new leader is needed to focus on the healing of the campus.
Jaeger said that he had no experience with the leading a lab when he arrived at the private university of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department and sought to create an environment in which students would build “a close relationship with their fellow students and me.”
“It took a while, but for me to realize that the dynamics of power and cultural differences posed some problems,” he said. “For example, some were not comfortable or receive frank feedback. Others were angry because I socialized with students (many of whom were around my age). In retrospect, I had previously recognized how my behavior has affected some of my students and faculty colleagues.”
Eight teachers and a student last year filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, says the university mishandled complaints against Jaeger and revenge against them for the bringing of the professor and his behavior to the light.
The group followed by a federal lawsuit last month, accusing the university of retaliation and breach of contract and says that it has deflected and hidden problems of sexual harassment. The suit is pending.
Jaeger, now on administrative leave, didn’t consider his work schedule in his statement, but said that the relationships that have been damaged “the value of the reconstruction.”
The complainants said they took their action in support of the students, and were not to blame for the damage.
“The actions of the government and Florian are what ripped of the department and our community apart,” complainant Steven Piantadosi said. “What is the cause of the break was the fanatical defense of the indefensible behaviour of Florian Jaeger.”