Sexual Harassment Allegations at UMass Lowell
Lowell, MA– Almost 100 faculty members at UMass Lowell have signed a petition to remove an engineering professor from campus after he was found in violation of the university's sexual harassment guidelines two years ago. He was demoted, but not fired, and the female staff member (who was one of several who complained about Ibe's behavior) has since left the school. Now that the story has been uncovered by current staff members at UMass Lowell, a petition is demanding Ibe's removal, reports the Lowell Sun.
The incident in question occurred two years ago in April 2017. Oliver Ibe, who was then Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, walked into a female staff member's office. He said how much he'd miss her during April vacation, putting his hand on the sides of her waist and rubbing her back. The woman, who was his subordinate, pushed him away. According to the Lowell Sun, this is merely one story of several that the administration is aware of concerning Ibe's inappropriate behavior.
After an investigation of this incident and others, UMass Lowell took disciplinary action in 2017, ruling that Ibe was in violation of the school's sexual harassment and misconduct guidelines. The administration removed Ibe's title of associate dean and lowering his salary accordingly, believing the matter had been fully addressed. As far as the woman staff member, the school settled with her, awarding her $75,000. $25,000 of that went to her lawyer fees.
The story has recently come to light; most of the staff were not made aware of the sexual harassment investigation at the time. Now that the story is public, many are angered that Ibe got off so lightly and was allowed to continue in a position at the university, and thus signed the petition. Staff and students are challenging the university's decision, asking why he wasn't fired altogether for creating an unsafe environment at the school.
The 2017 disciplinary letter to Ibe concluded by saying: "Please be advised that future breaches of this kind will be met with discipline, up to and including the university's right to invoke termination and/or dismissal proceedings..."
UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney responded to the petition, saying that she plans to create a task force to review the university's current sexual harassment policies and procedures for reported violations.