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Anthropology Prof. Urton Plans to Retire Amid Investigation into Sexual Harassment Allegations

The Tozzer Building on Divinity Avenue houses the Anthropology department.
The Tozzer Building on Divinity Avenue houses the Anthropology department. By Sanjana S. Ramrajvel
By James S. Bikales, Crimson Staff Writer

Anthropology professor Gary Urton told colleagues in the department that he plans to retire in August, two months after he was placed on leave amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay placed Urton on paid administrative leave June 3 following an investigation by The Crimson that found Urton and two other Anthropology professors face allegations of sexual harassment.

Later that week, two more former students told The Crimson that Urton had sexually harassed them, and 25 Anthropology faculty demanded Urton’s resignation.

Nearly 400 students also signed a petition demanding that Urton — along with the other two professors — be removed from their departments and have their tenure revoked before the fall semester begins.

Anthropology chair Ajantha Subramanian announced Urton’s plans to retire by the end of August in a one-sentence email to department affiliates Tuesday afternoon.

Urton and Subramanian did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

By retiring, Urton will likely retain emeritus status and its benefits — the ability to hold an office on campus, teach and advise students, and receive support from administrative or research assistants — though he will presumably remain on administrative leave.

Gay has the authority to strip him of his emeritus distinction. Until Urton officially retires, only the Harvard Corporation can strip him of his tenure — a move not seen for several decades.

After former Government professor Jorge I. Dominguez retired while facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Gay waited for the completion of a year-long Title IX investigation through Harvard’s Office for Dispute Resolution before stripping Dominguez of his emeritus status and barring him from campus.

Urton currently faced at least one ODR investigation into a complaint filed by former Ph.D. student Jade d’Alpoim Guedes in early June.

FAS spokesperson Rachael Dane confirmed in an emailed statement that the investigation into Urton will continue even if he retires.

“In keeping with the FAS Policy and Procedures on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, an individual’s retirement does not end an investigation, and at the end of any investigation, the Dean (or Dean’s designee), having received the investigation report, will separately will consider the imposition of discipline,” Dane wrote.

Dane declined to answer questions about whether Urton would retain emeritus status or whether Gay would publically announce the results of investigation as she did in the Dominguez case.

—Staff writer James S. Bikales can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @jamepdx.

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