Dartmouth Psych Professor Paul Whalen Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigation

June 26, 2018

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 he be fired and his tenure revoked, Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said in an email to the college community Tuesday.

Former professor Todd Heatherton retired June 14 following a similar recommendation.

Hanlon’s email says a separate recommendation has been made regarding a third professor, William 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 attorney general office’s investigation remains ongoing, Associate Attorney General Jane Young said in an email 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 he 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 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 inquiry conducted by an external investigator, Hanlon wrote.

When the separate review of the recommendations Kelley’s conduct is completed, Hanlon said he will update the 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 from 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. The group of undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctorate scholars said in a statement published in The Dartmouth, 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 the 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 wrote. “Thank you for your patience and support as this process continues.”

Source: “Second Dartmouth professor ousted in sexual misconduct inquiry,” Valley News, June 26, 2018, URL: https://www.concordmonitor.com/Second-Dartmouth-Professor-Resigns-in-Wake-of-Recommendation-He-Be-Fired-18451151


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