Princeton fires tenured professor after sexual misconduct investigation
Tenured Princeton professor Joshua Katz was fired by the Ivy League university on Monday following a sexual misconduct investigation, the school confirmed to The Hill Tuesday.
Katz, a classics professor, was terminated “effective immediately” following a vote by the University’s Board of Trustees after the university discovered that he allegedly misrepresented facts or withheld information related to the investigation, which began in February of 2021.
The university’s inquiry started after receiving new information from a Princeton alumna who had a consensual relationship with Katz during her time as a student in the early 2000s.
The relationship initially led to a 2018 disciplinary proceeding that placed Katz on unpaid suspension for the academic year of 2018-2019 and three years of probation upon his return. The 2021 investigation focused on new information previously unknown to the university.
Katz allegedly urged the alumna not to participate in the investigation after she had expressed “the intent to do so,” the university said in the statement shared with The Hill. He also allegedly discouraged her from seeking help with her mental health. All of this was done “in an effort to conceal a relationship he knew was prohibited by University rules.”
The statement added, “These actions were not only egregious violations of University policy, but also entirely inconsistent with his obligations as a member of the Faculty.”
Katz, who was hired by Princeton in 1998, lamented the decision in a Monday text message to The New York Times.
“I am both angry and heartbroken, which is a dreadful combination,” he said.
The decision to fire the tenured professor comes after he wrote a 2020 article criticizing the university, the Times noted.
In a journal called the Quillette, Katz slammed anti-racism efforts proposed by students, staff and faculty, which included giving faculty of color course relief and summer salary, among other ideas.
“It boggles my mind that anyone would advocate giving people — extraordinarily privileged people already, let me point out: Princeton professors — extra perks for no reason other than their pigmentation,” Katz wrote.
His piece, which sparked debate about free speech on Princeton’s campus, was the impetus behind Katz’s termination, his lawyer Samantha Harris argued.
“The university’s decision will have a powerful chilling effect on free speech, because anyone who might wish to express a controversial opinion knows that they must first ask themselves if their personal life can stand up to the kind of relentless scrutiny that Dr. Katz’s life was subjected to beginning just days after the publication of his Quillette article,” she told the Times.
Princeton’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, dismissed the allegation, saying, “Political views aren’t a reason to investigate anybody. They’re also not a defense for investigating anybody.”
Harris could not be immediately reached for comment by The Hill.
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