Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University professor removed for extremely unacceptable behaviour

A professor from Leiden University has subjected various colleagues to intimidating and unacceptable behaviour for a longer period. These are the findings of an investigation carried out by the University’s independent Complaints Committee for Unacceptable Behaviour at the request of the Executive Board after various members of staff had submitted a complaint to the Dean about the professor in question. The Complaints Committee has upheld the complaints.

The professor was suspended with effect from the start of the committee’s investigation. Based on the advice of the Complaints Committee, the Executive Board decided on 18 October 2022 that the professor will not be allowed to return to the University, will no longer be allowed to supervise PhD candidates and will not be able to make future use of the provision for professors and emeritus professors.

The Complaints Committee has also advised the Executive Board to work on improving the working environment at the institute where the professor worked. The Executive Board accepts this recommendation and will work with the faculty and institute to create a safer environment at the institute.

The Executive Board is shocked by the complaints and the Complaints Committee’s findings. President Annetje Ottow: ‘Dignity and respect is one of our focal points and working on this is high on our agenda. This includes using tools and conversation training to prevent and identify the warning signs of misconduct in the organisation, particularly because we know – from Naomi Ellemer’s report for the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) – that some patterns are not always visible.

‘That these complaints have been able to persist nevertheless and this behaviour has been able to harm so many people affects us deeply. Our concern now is first and foremost for those involved in this investigation. They have been informed of the outcome and the decision taken by the Executive Board. The same applies to the institute. The complainants will be offered all the help they need. We will look critically at the lessons that we as a university must learn from this and how we can ensure that unacceptable behaviour is addressed sooner in the future, also in the form of prevention. It is important that people do not feel any barriers to reporting and discussing unacceptable behaviour. Concluding that this behaviour was unacceptable and sending the professor home does not mean we are there yet. We already do a lot but we really do have to do better.’

 If you need to talk to someone or want to report unacceptable behaviour, please contact your manager or the confidential counsellor at your faculty or expertise centre.

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