Princeton University fires professor who violated policies

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Princeton University officials have fired a tenured electrical engineering professor who violated two university policies, including one forbidding consensual relations with students.

Sergio Verdu, 60, had worked at the university from 1984 until his dismissal on Sept. 24 by university trustees, Princeton University spokesman Daniel Day said in a statement.

“The dismissal was recommended by the President (Christopher L. Eisgruber) and the Provost (Deborah Prentice) after an investigation established Dr. Verdu violated the university’s policy prohibiting consensual relations with students and its policy requiring honesty and cooperation in university matters,” Day said.

“The conduct underlying the consensual relations violation occurred a few years ago, but came to light in 2017. When he was dismissed, Dr. Verdu was on probation as a result of a different disciplinary violation that occurred in 2017,” Day said.

Verdu could not be reached for comment.

According to published reports, a female graduate student, Yeohee Im, claimed Verdu had sexually harassed her in 2017 and that a subsequent university investigation confirmed as much. He had denied any wrongdoing, although university officials required him to undergo training and put him on probation.

“I am relieved the university finally did the least it had to do a long time ago and administrators of the university should recognize that this step should lead to further fundamental change to eradicate abuse of power,” Im said in an Oct. 3 email to the Princeton Packet.

In his statement, Day said a panel had looked at the recommendation to fire Verdu ahead of action by trustees.

“Before the recommendation was submitted to the board, it was reviewed by an independent, standing committee of the faculty at the request of Dr. Verdu, and that committee agreed with the finding that Dr. Verdu violated those policies and concluded that the recommended penalty was reasonable,” Day said.