Longtime Harvard University professor Jorge I. Dominguez said on Tuesday that he will retire after nearly twenty women told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he had sexually harassed or assaulted them.
Dominguez, a professor of political science and Latin American studies since 1972, announced in an email to colleagues, “I am retiring from my job at Harvard at the end of this semester.” He added that “it has been a privilege to serve the university.”
Dominguez had been placed on administrative leave after a report last week from the Chronicle documented a long history of sexual misconduct. Numerous women told the magazine that he had subjected them to unwanted advances, as well as touching, grabbing, and kissing. The women span the decades of Dominguez’s career at Harvard, and many made formal complaints to the university.
In 1983, the Chronicle reports, Harvard found Dominguez responsible for “serious misconduct” after Terry Karl, a junior assistant professor then at Harvard, filed a complaint. Karl outlined two years of sexual harassment, including unwanted touching by Dominguez, a senior professor in her department, slated to be the next chair. After Harvard found Dominguez responsible for misconduct, he “was removed from administrative responsibilities for three years and told that any future misconduct could trigger his dismissal.” But Karl’s career was stained by rumors of an “affair gone sour,” and she eventually left Harvard (landing finally at Stanford).
Dominguez, undeterred by Harvard’s wrist slap, seems to have repeated this pattern of harassment for the next thirty years, harassing young academics, as well as graduate students. Many, like Karl, filed complaints with the university only to see them dismissed or bottlenecked while others remained silent out of fear. As is standard in these stories, many of the women Dominguez is accused of harassing left Harvard, while he remained, earning promotions and prestige within his field. Between 2006 and 2015, Dominguez served as the vice provost for international affairs. It’s a story that—even before #MeToo made sexual harassment allegations more newsworthy—has become increasingly familiar in academia.
Dominguez denied the multiple allegations. He told the Chronicle that the women’s accounts were a “terrible misinterpretation of whatever I might have been doing.” “I can’t imagine trying to hurt or injure someone I might have been helping,” he added.
Shortly after the Chronicle published its report, Harvard placed Dominguez on administrative leave pending a review. According to the terms of that leave, he was barred from entering campus without formal permission. Harvard, however, said that despite Dominguez’s retirement, it would continue its investigation. “Dominguez’s forthcoming retirement does not change the full and fair process of review that is currently underway,” Harvard said in a statement. The university added that Dominguez “remains on administrative leave until it is concluded.”
The women who spoke with the Chronicle said that simply allowing Dominguez to retire is not acceptable. “Harvard needs to take visible actions, which includes a transparent investigation and clear consequences,” Karl said. Others demanded accountability from the university, including a review of the systems and people who allowed Dominguez to harass women for decades while continuing to thrive professionally at the Ivy League school.