The University of California Irvine has bid goodbye to renowned geneticist and faculty member Francisco J. Ayala, who donated $10 million dollars to the School of Biological Sciences. The faculty member is a winner of the coveted Templeton Prize — also won by the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. He is famous for his work in genetics which has benefited hundreds of millions of people around the world through the prevention and treatment of serious disease conditions.
However, this famous geneticist’s honors and multimillion dollar donation to UC Irvine were not enough to prevent four sexual harassment victims from coming forward to speak out against him. After UC Irvine conducted a detailed investigation into the four complaints made by graduate students and fellow faculty members, the university determined that the man had, indeed, sexually harassed his accusers.
In the wake of the professor’s resignation from the UC Irvng biology school, the university also removed the professor’s name from its graduate fellowships, central science library endowed chairs and scholar programs which formerly bore the man’s moniker. UC Irvine announced that it would rename its biology school UCI School of Biological Sciences. The university chancellor further remarked, the following, “Professor Ayala’s behavior defied our core beliefs and was inconsistent with our policies, guidelines and required training.”
Ayala blamed the sexual harassment allegations on cultural differences, saying that it was nothing more than “the good manners of a European gentleman” that unbeknownst to him had made his female colleagues feel uncomfortable.
No one should have to endure sexual harassment at work, no matter how distinguished and award-winning their sexual harasser happens to be. If you’re experiencing any kind of sexualized behavior directed toward you at work, don’t be shy to speak up. The law is on your side.