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Marc Hauser's Return to Harvard Uncertain

By Naveen N. Srivatsa, Crimson Staff Writer

University President Drew G. Faust has not confirmed that psychology professor Marc D. Hauser will be returning to Harvard, contrary to expectations that the professor will resume teaching during the next academic year.

In an interview with The Boston Globe on Wednesday, Faust said there are “too many uncertainties of what the future is going to bring” for her to be able to say that Hauser will assume his normal teaching duties again.

Moreover, Hauser “may decide he may not wish to come back,” she said.

Hauser is currently facing a federal investigation into alleged scientific misconduct in his research on cognitive abilities in primates. Faust told The Globe that the findings of the investigation may also influence Hauser’s decision to return to Harvard.

In its own investigation, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences found Hauser “solely responsible” for eight instances of scientific misconduct, leading to a retraction of one of his papers and a correction on another article.

A third article, published in the journal Science, was also called into question, according to a letter from FAS Dean Michael D. Smith. The experiments in that paper were re-run upon discovery that some of the conclusions were based on “insufficient note-keeping and records,” according to Ginger Pinholster, director of public relations at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The replicated results are undergoing a peer review.

Despite these findings and the pending investigation, Hauser, who did not return a request for comment, is scheduled to return to his teaching post during the next academic year.

“I will return to teaching in the fall of 2011, including courses both at the College and at the Extension School,” Hauser wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson on Aug. 30, after canceling courses he had been scheduled to teach at the Extension School this year.

Faust’s comments to The Globe follow a public interview she gave with former ABC News anchor Charles Gibson on Tuesday, during which she said that the process to remove a professor from the faculty “indeed is a process that can be used in instances of scientific or research misconduct.”

In that interview, Faust defended the University’s actions in Hauser’s case, saying that the confidential faculty-run investigation was in line with similar processes in peer institutions. She called the disclosure of some information pertaining to his case “unprecedented.”

—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at srivatsa@fas.harvard.edu.

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