ETH Zurich moves to fire professor accused of bullying

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This content was published on November 1, 2018 2:44 PMNov 1, 2018 - 14:44

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The writing seems to be on the blackboard for the ETH Zurich professor (not pictured)(Keystone)

A professor from the former Institute for Astronomy at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich is set to be dismissed. The proceedings are based on an administrative investigation following allegations that the professor had displayed “unsatisfactory leadership behaviour”. 

The unnamed professor, who founded the university’s Institute for Astronomy with her husband in 2002, had been accused of subjecting students to condescending requests and late-night badgering about minor issues, according to the NZZ am Sonntag, which broke the story. 

The alleged bullying, which came to light in February 2017 following allegations by several doctoral students, extends back more than ten years.  

As an immediate measure, the affected students were assigned another tutor in March 2017. In addition, the Institute for Astronomy was shut down in August 2017 and parts of it integrated into the new Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysicsexternal link

The administrative investigation, which was initiated a year ago, has now established “serious behaviour contrary to obligations over a longer period of time”, ETH Zurich said on Wednesday. The lead investigator recommended a termination of employment. 

“The investigative report proves there was unacceptable behaviour, which we cannot tolerate,” the institute’s president, Lino Guzzella, said in a statement. 

A commission is initially responsible for judging whether the professor’s dismissal is reasonable. The recommendation of the commission and the request of the institute’s president will then be submitted to the ETH Zurich board for a decision.

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