×

Second Dartmouth Professor Ousted in Sexual Misconduct Inquiry

  • Paul Whalen, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College. Photo courtesy Dartmouth College.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hanover — A second Dartmouth College professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences has been ousted in the wake of a sexual misconduct inquiry.

Paul Whalen resigned, effective immediately, following a recommendation by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith that his tenure be revoked and he be fired, Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said in an email to the college community on Tuesday.

Former Professor Todd Heatherton retired on June 14 following a similar recommendation by Smith.

Hanlon’s email said a separate recommendation from Smith has been made regarding a third professor, Bill Kelley, and is under review by the faculty-elected Council on Academic Freedom and Responsibility.

Dartmouth had placed the three professors on paid leave in October amid allegations of “serious misconduct.” The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office then opened a criminal investigation because at least some of the allegations involved potential “sexual misconduct,” and Hanlon’s email on Tuesday specifically says Whalen, Kelley, and Heatherton “were investigated for alleged sexual misconduct” by the college.

The state Attorney General Office’s investigation remains ongoing, Associate Attorney General Jane Young said in an email on Tuesday.

Hanlon’s email said Dartmouth did not enter into a separation or nondisclosure agreement with Whalen and did not give him any severance payments. He had been on paid leave, and will continue to be barred from campus or from attending any Dartmouth-sponsored events, no matter the location, Hanlon’s email said.

Efforts to reach Whalen and his attorney on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Heatherton, because of his age and length of service, was able to retire, but that option was not available to Whalen, according to Hanlon.

The decision to revoke Whalen’s tenure and fire him was based on the findings of an external investigator, Hanlon said. That investigator also conducted similar inquiries into the two other professors.

When the review of the recommendations in Kelley’s case is completed, Hanlon said, he will update the Dartmouth community. Kelley remains on paid leave and has restricted access to Dartmouth property.

Heatherton, who had been on sabbatical leave when the college announced his retirement earlier this month, issued an apology for acting “unprofessionally in public” while he was intoxicated at public settings during academic conferences.

In an email from his Concord-based attorneys at Shaheen & Gordon earlier this month, Heatherton said: “I retired because I thought it best for my family, the institution, and the graduate students involved. I acknowledge that I acted unprofessionally in public at conferences while intoxicated. I offer a humble and sincere apology to anyone affected by my actions.”

In November, 15 Dartmouth College students released an anonymous statement accusing the three professors of creating a hostile work environment at the school. In the statement, published in The Dartmouth, the group of undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctorate scholars said that the men “created a hostile academic environment in which sexual harassment is normalized.”

Whalen had worked at Dartmouth since 2005. He graduated from Stonehill College in 1986 and received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Vermont in 1993, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He came to Dartmouth from University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he had been an assistant professor.

Whalen’s areas of expertise include affective neuroscience, facial expressions, and the amygdala, part of the brain that deals with emotions, according to an archived version of his Dartmouth profile, which is no longer on the college website.

In his email, Hanlon said he understands this situation has been hard on the college community.

“These are difficult issues, but as we move forward, I am confident that we are strengthening our community,” Hanlon said. “Thank you for your patience and support as this process continues.”

However, it does not appear that Dartmouth plans a full public airing of its investigator’s findings.

Asked if Dartmouth plans to eventually release more information about the inquiries, college spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said via email, “To protect the privacy of all parties, we are not sharing the details of the investigations.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com.