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'People Are Very Aware of The Stakes' Says Longtime Dartmouth Employee on Ongoing Misconduct Cases

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NHPR Staff
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Baker Tower at Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth’s newly formed chapter of the American Association of University Professors is responding to the first disciplinary action taken by the college against three psychology professors under criminal investigation for sexual misconduct.

President Phil Hanlon announced Thursday the school was on track to fire longtime professor Todd Heatherton, but Heatherton instead elected to step down. He remains banned from campus and all Dartmouth events. 

Former colleagues and students have said Heatherton has a history of improper behavior dating back decades. 

Senior Lecturer Giavanna Munafo, who serves on the executive committee of the AAUP chapter and has worked in the college’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, said it’s striking that Heatherton was allowed to hold influential positions both in his department and at the school more broadly.

Still, she’s hopeful Dartmouth’s ultimate action in this case encourages victims of discrimination or harassment in other areas of the college to come forward. "There may be a couple of other hot spots where there are people saying 'me too,'" she said. 

She's working on a statement on behalf the AAUP chapter addressing the school's sexual harassment policies. “People are very aware of the stakes,” she said. “They are very hopeful that the college will do the right thing at this point.”

In a statement Thursday, Heatherton apologized for his behavior, but acknowledged only that he acted unprofessionally at conferences while intoxicated. 

The college has not released details of allegations it received that kicked off its investigation, nor confirmed any earlier complaints.

Disciplinary proceedings are ongoing for two of Heatherton’s colleagues in the department of psychological and brain sciences, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen. They remain on paid leave.  

A criminal investigation by the state attorney general’s office also remains open.