Several months ago, four members of our UCI community bravely reported incidents of sexual harassment within their school.
While reporting misconduct is always difficult, the actions of these women were particularly courageous because their reports involved one of the most prominent members of our faculty.
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD) thoroughly investigated this matter, speaking to more than 60 witnesses. The investigation substantiated a number of sexual harassment claims against Francisco J. Ayala, the signature benefactor of the School of Biological Sciences, the central science library and several scholarly programs.
Our stance on sexual harassment and sexual misconduct is clearly communicated in our policies, guidelines and required training. Given the number and breadth of the substantiated allegations, along with the power differentials at play, I believe that keeping Professor Ayala’s name in a position of honor would be wrong.
Therefore, I decided to remove the Ayala name from the school and library. Similar changes will apply to the graduate fellowships, scholar programs and endowed chairs bearing the Ayala name. Following our standard consultative procedures, including a faculty review committee, Professor Ayala resigned without emeritus status, effective July 1, 2018, and will abstain from future campus activities. A public announcement regarding these decisions was issued a few moments ago.
Diversity advisors will work with the biology school’s students, faculty, staff and administration to provide additional training and counseling. A climate assessment is already underway, and focused education on reporting and intervention will be offered. We will do everything within our power to create an environment in which ideas and knowledge can thrive without fear of harassment, mistreatment or retaliation.
I sincerely thank those who had the courage to come forward – Professor and Chair Kathleen Treseder, Professor Jessica Pratt, Assistant Dean Benedicte Shipley, and graduate student Michelle Herrera – and apologize for any inappropriate behavior they experienced from a member of our faculty. Each stood up for what is right and should be commended.
Chancellor Howard Gillman