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Princeton president recommends firing professor who was under sexual misconduct probe

An Ivy League professor who was under investigation for sexual misconduct is facing possible termination at Princeton University in what critics call a politically motivated maneuver.

The president of the university last week recommended that the board of trustees fire tenured classics professor Dr. Joshua Katz in connection with a relationship he had with a student in 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Katz was suspended over the relationship following a 2018 investigation which found it violated school policy, and a subsequent probe by the school newspaper last year led to another inquiry that found that the professor didn’t fully cooperate initially and misled investigators, according to the article.

The second investigation came shortly after Katz criticized faculty proposals to address Princeton’s racist history following the police murder of George Floyd, leading his allies to accuse the university of targeting him for his outspoken criticism of the school’s liberal staff, the report said.

Katz wrote an online essay in July of 2020 that said an open letter signed by students, staff and alumni that called for a committee to examine racism on campus would lead to crackdowns on free speech, and said he was “embarrassed” for his colleagues that signed it.

His op-ed also called the student Black Justice League a “small terrorist organization” after it successfully lobbied to have former President Woodrow Wilson’s name removed from the public policy school.

“If expressing an unpopular opinion is an invitation to have your personal life turned inside
out looking for damaging evidence, how many people are going to be willing to speak out?,” his lawyer Samantha Harris asked the newspaper.

President Christopher Eisgruber countered that Katz’s remarks were “irresponsible and offensive” in his own editorial days later.

Princeton President Christopher Ludwig Eisgruber sent his recommendation to the university’s board of trustees.
Sameer A. Khan

Faculty dean Gene Jarrett, who signed Eisgruber’s recent letter calling for Katz’s dismissal, had reportedly previously denied that politics was a factor in the school’s second investigation into Katz.

“The current political climate of the University, whether perceived or real, is not germane to the case, nor does it play a role in my recommendation,” Dr. Jarrett reportedly wrote in the investigation summary.

A faculty committee enlisted by Eisgruber to review Jarrett’s probe determined it was fair and concluded that “dismissal is not an unreasonable recommendation,” according to the article.

Still, the professor’s looming possible termination irked free speech advocates.

“With the firing of Professor Katz, Princeton will have sent a message,” Edward Yingling, co-founder of Princetonians for Free Speech, reportedly said.

“If a faculty member or student says something that contradicts our orthodoxy, we will get you—if not for what you said, then by twisting your language, by using the extensive resources of the university to shame you before the student body, and by investigating your personal life for years past.”

The board of trustees did not respond to the outlet when asked for comment, beyond saying it would be unusual to discuss personnel matters.

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