Columbia history professor William Harris retired on Monday as part of the settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit against the University, administrators announced in an email to Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students and faculty.
Harris stepped down from his position as both teacher and adviser in October after an anonymous female doctoral student accused him of multiple instances of nonconsensual sexual contact since 2012. Under the name Jane Doe, the student then filed a lawsuit against Columbia for its failure to take appropriate action on her complaints.
Harris will not be granted emeritus status or be involved in any University activities going forward.
Despite being removed from his role on Oct. 30, Harris remained a University employee until Monday. As a tenured professor, Harris could not have been immediately fired at the will of the history department or administrators alone. Harris taught two graduate seminars along with two undergraduate lecture courses, Environmental History of the Ancient Mediterranean and Roman Social History.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences David Madigan and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Carlos Alonso, who sent the email, wrote that Harris has retired “effective immediately.” A University spokesperson declined to provide further comment.
Read the full email below.
“Dear students and faculty:
Earlier this semester, we informed you that Professor William Harris has agreed to withdraw from his teaching, advising, and other student-related activities. We want you to know that Professor Harris has officially retired from the University, effective immediately, in conjunction with the settlement of a lawsuit brought against him and Columbia.
We recognize that college and university campuses do not exist apart from the widespread re-examination of workplace conduct that has dominated so much of the nation’s attention in recent months. We are deeply committed to supporting all of our students, protecting them from harassment of any kind, and ensuring that our academic community is a safe and respectful place for everyone who studies, teaches, and works here.
David B. Madigan
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Carlos J. Alonso
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences”