Cosmologist, atheist, and professor Lawrence Krauss has announced his retirement from teaching, two months after Arizona State University completed its investigation into alleged sexual misconduct and weeks after an ASU dean recommended Krauss be fired for his actions.
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed first published an article detailing allegations against Krauss stretching back a decade. ASU put Krauss on paid leave at the time while banning him from campus during the investigation.
In August, ASU announced Krauss would not be brought back to lead the Origins Project, a program he began to “explore humankind’s most fundamental questions about our origins,” but they didn’t announced anything more about his employment.
When the school’s investigation was completed, they confirmed earlier reports that Krauss groped a woman at a conference in Australia, violating their sexual harassment policy. (The woman said she didn’t want Krauss to be fired, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t violate ASU’s rule.) They didn’t investigate a more serious claim that occurred outside the university. And they didn’t say anything about allegations made without formal complaints, which many women don’t file precisely because they often invite more drama than resolution.
Krauss’ defense for all of these allegations has been limited primarily to a nine-page letter he published on March 7 in which he strongly denied just about everything. He called the original BuzzFeed piece “libelous” and claimed the reporters had a “cavalier disregard for evidence.” When ASU confirmed a part of the reporting that involved their school, he didn’t say anything.
And now, before ASU can go through the process to fire a tenured professor (if that was ever the intent), Krauss has announced his retirement effective at the end of this school year:
An update on my situation at ASU. I have chosen to retire from ASU in May, 2019, when I turn 65. Onward and hopefully upward to new and different challenges. Details below. Thanks for the support and encouragement from so many of you. pic.twitter.com/7PSh0i4NnU— Lawrence M. Krauss (@LKrauss1) October 21, 2018
Yesterday I submitted, and the University accepted, my request to retire from my position as Professor at ASU, at the end of this academic year on May 16, 2019. The University has now closed its review process, following a conciliation procedure. My choice at this time to retire in May was prompted by the regulations of the Arizona Board of Regents, under which I would only be allowed to directly test the credibility of my accusers on the veracity of their claims if I were to first agree to be dismissed, which I was not willing to do. The nature of the review process I experienced included incomplete access to evidence and accusations during the investigation, no opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or be represented by a lawyer during the investigation interviews, and no option to directly appeal the subsequent determinations made by the investigators or the Provost.
To be clear, I have never harassed or assaulted anyone and have most certainly not exhibited gender discrimination in my professional dealings at the University or elsewhere. Based on what has been reported to me by the University, none of my students, departmental staff, faculty colleagues, research colleagues and postdoctoral fellows, or participants in the Origins events I led over the past decade at ASU, has ever issued any allegations or complaints to the University regarding my behavior.
I am confident an appeals process that impartially examined all evidence, including the evidence I had prepared for the conciliation process, would lead to an outcome in my favor. Nevertheless, my experience over the past seven months has led me to surmise that even following such an outcome, I would no longer encounter a working environment at ASU that is conducive to continuing my active teaching, research, and service activities. I look to the future for new and different challenges and opportunities.
There’s something remarkably tone-deaf about a person accused by multiple women of inappropriate conduct saying he’s retiring because the work environment wouldn’t be conducive for his academic pursuits…
In any case, this may be the best move for everyone involved. ASU would have been rightly criticized for keeping him on staff after the allegations, and Krauss had no desire to go through an investigation that would’ve kept this story in the news even longer. He’s now free to give talks and write books for audiences that aren’t bothered by (or don’t take seriously) any of these allegations. Because that’s how powerful men “suffer” in the wake of allegations against them.
He’s hardly the first. He won’t be the last.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)