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Dartmouth Places Three Professors on Paid Leave; Statement About Investigation Cites ‘Safety of Campus Community’



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Hanover — Dartmouth College has put three psychology professors on paid leave and restricted their access to campus as it investigates potential “serious misconduct,” college officials said on Wednesday.

Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence confirmed in a statement that professors Todd Heatherton, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen were on leave as the inquiry proceeds, but declined to answer follow-up questions about the nature of the alleged misconduct and when it is purported to have occurred.

“Dartmouth has restricted their access to campus pending the conclusion of ongoing investigations into allegations of serious misconduct. We are engaged in a thorough and impartial process that protects the rights of all parties and promotes the safety of our campus community,” the statement said.

None of the three tenured faculty members could be reached for comment on Wednesday, and the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department chairman David Bucci referred questions to the college communications staff.

Barry Schuster, a Lebanon attorney who said he was authorized to speak for Heatherton, said the professor was cooperating with Dartmouth’s investigation.

“Professor Heatherton will of course thoroughly cooperate with the college on its investigation,” said Schuster, who added that he was not formally representing Heatherton.

Heatherton is the Lincoln Filene professor in human relations in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and also serves as director of its Center for Social Brain Sciences.

An automated response to an email seeking comment from Heatherton said he is on sabbatical until September 2018.

A list of Heatherton’s publications on his website includes several collaborations with Kelley, who oversees The Brain Imaging Lab at Dartmouth College.

Whalen’s research focuses on the region of the brain called the amygdala and its influence over fear, according to Dartmouth’s website.

It is unclear from Dartmouth’s statements what the professors are alleged to have done, but the matter appears to be internal for now.

Officials at the Hanover Police Department on Wednesday said they had received no complaints about Kelley, Whalen or Heatherton, and had no open investigations pertaining to the professors.

“The Hanover Police Department presently does not have any information or investigation in regards to those three professors,” Capt. Mark Bodanza said.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.

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Clarification

This post was updated at 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday to reflect that the professors have been placed on paid leave and were not suspended.