When the sexual misconduct scandal broke last year, UofR President Joel Seligman immediately came under fire from faculty and students
The scandal even sparked a nationwide boycott.
In his statement to the campus community, Seligman said it was in the best interest of the University that he resign.
Seligman was not present when former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White released the findings of her independent investigation. Though the report found the UofR did not violate federal law or campus policy, Seligman stepped down anyway.
“The University today needs a new president,” Seligman said in a statement to the campus community. “I say this with no bitterness, no regret, but seeing facts for what they are. The University today most needs a period of healing. I fully support this process.”
The resignation surprised many, including the head of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Bob Duffy would not comment about the sexual harassment scandal, only to say it took courage for Seligman to step down. Duffy said, “A leader will put the organization first and that’s what he did.”
Seligman lead the UofR for 12 years. During that time, the school solidified its place as Rochester’s largest and most prominent employer. It expanded the Medical Center and the Eastman Theater,. and took over East High School in Rochester Seligman was a key leader of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.
But after the sexual harassment scandal broke last year, Seligman came under fire. Even White said he should have stepped in earlier to oversee the university’s response to the crisis. Seligman announced his resignation hours later.
Danny Wegman, the chair of the UofR Board of Trustees, shared a letter he wrote to Seligman. It said in part, “The university has experienced difficult times lately, but your decision allows us to truly “turn the page” and move forward with respect, resolve, and unity.”
Seligman’s resignation takes effect at the end of February. Despite his departure and the findings of independent investigation, the university still faces a lawsuit over the scandal.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter also released the following statement on Seligman’s resignation.
“For more than a decade, Joel Seligman has helped transform the University of Rochester. Together, we waged successful campaigns to solidify federal support for the laser lab and dramatically increase the university’s share of federal research funding. For years, Joel not only guided the University of Rochester but was central to our region’s effort to regain our economic footing by leveraging Rochester’s deep experience and expertise in high-tech research, development and manufacturing, including the federally-led photonics institute. I consider him a friend and Joel’s impact on our community will be felt for many years to come.
“We must eliminate the scourge of sexual assault and harassment from all corners of our society. It was an outrage that this professor was allowed to take advantage of the uneven power that exists between faculty and students. This is the same dynamic that universities and workplaces are grappling with across the nation. The report released today outlined a series of steps that college officials can take to better protect students and I hope they are given the serious consideration they deserve. No one should be driven out of research, academics, or their lifelong dreams because of intimidation or abuse. If we do not support all students in academics, our nation will lose out on countless advancements and great breakthroughs that could change history.”