Harvard strips anthropologist and sexual harasser Gary Urton of emeritus status and bans him from campus


The Harvard Crimson reports that Gary Urton has received his final judgement from Harvard for a heavy record of misconduct. Sometimes there are consequences.

From a source, the full text of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay's statement:

Dear members of the Anthropology Department, Dumbarton Oaks, and Peabody Museum colleagues,
I am writing to inform you of upcoming changes within the Department of Anthropology that will occur as a result of disciplinary actions being taken regarding Dr. Gary Urton. As these changes directly impact the members of the Department, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Peabody Museum, I describe them here, as well as the findings that motivated them.
The Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) recently completed a thorough and careful review of formal allegations made against Dr. Urton and concluded that he engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct and abused power with individuals over whom he had professional responsibility. Additionally, he engaged in persistent sexual harassment of a member of the community, interfering with that individual’s ability to engage in FAS educational programs and activities.  Moreover, ODR found that Dr. Urton provided materially misleading information in the course of its investigation, conduct that had the potential of subverting the integrity of the University’s investigatory processes. The ODR review documented behavior that was in violation of FAS policies on sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and unprofessional conduct. In short, Dr. Urton exhibited a pattern of behavior that betrayed the trust of our community and violated our fundamental institutional values.
Given the gravity of these findings, the following sanctions have been levied against Dr. Urton:
As of June 10, 2021, Dr. Urton has been stripped of his emeritus appointment.
All rights and privileges customarily conferred by the FAS on faculty who hold emeritus appointments, as listed in the FAS Appointment and Promotion Handbook, have been revoked, including:

  1. He may not hold the title of emeritus Professor or Research Professor
  2. He may not teach any undergraduate students or GSAS students
  3. He may not advise any GSAS graduate students
  4. He will not have any Library privileges
  5. He will not have a Harvard email address or access to IT services through the FAS
  6. He will not have any office space within the FAS
  7. He will not be allowed to raise funds through the FAS, nor will he have any access to any research funding through the FAS
  8. He will not have access to any administrative support
  9. He will not be allowed to attend FAS Faculty Meetings as a guest or in any other capacity
  10. And he will not receive any FAS mailings to the community.

Dr. Urton is no longer welcome on any part of the FAS campus or to attend any FAS-sponsored events held off campus. In addition, the President has agreed to place the same sanction on the entire Harvard campus and on all Harvard-sponsored events.
The sanctions described above are proportionate to the severity of the behavior observed and seek to uphold and further our shared community standards and the safe, fair, and respectful environment necessary to promote academic excellence. I remind all members of our community that if you witness or experience sexual or gender-based harassment, there are many resources available, including the FAS Title IX Coordinators, the University Office for Gender EquityHarvard University Counseling and Mental Health Services, the Harvard Chaplains, and the Employee Assistance Program.
Claudine Gay

Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

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Anonymous said…

“Harvard bans former anthropology chair after finding persistent sexual harassment
By Ann Gibbons Jun. 10, 2021 , 6:05 PM”
“Jade Guedes of the University of California, San Diego, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was one of the women whose complaints triggered the investigation…Guedes wrote in an email today that although she is glad to see Harvard “finally taking some action and sanctions against Urton,” Harvard “still ignored some of the most egregious cases of harm and sexual harassment that were brought to their office because of lack of documentary evidence.” She was able to document her case with emails, but “how … often do harassers leave this type of evidence behind?”

This quote reminded me of a related comment by Guedes in another page of Balter’s Blog, almost to the year. It’s worth c&p this exchange here since this case is still waiting for its proper resolution.

“Anonymous said…
There is another important angle not mentioned above to the IFR-Harvard connection:
Dr. Jade d'Alpoim Guedes, who up to last year was on the IFR board, shared on twitter that she was sexually harassed by Gary Urton when she was a graduate student at Harvard.
It is not clear why d'Alpoim Guedes is no longer listed on the IFR board, so wondering if she quit because of the similar allegations against Kurin and Boytner. It is time to dismantle this web of silence once and for all!
June 2, 2020 at 2:06 PM

Jade d'Alpoim Guedes said…
Hi Anonymous, That is pretty much one of the reasons why I quit the IFR board. I was shocked that this could have happened at a field school of ours and by Ran's attitude. I will say though that the rest of the board was as shocked as me when they heard and took this really seriously and took firm action and kicked Danielle and her field school out. I wish I had been told about the title IX at UCSB but knowing everything I know now about how this process works I'm not surprised I was kept int he dark. I also quit because of what I learned about how IFR staff were treated.
June 2, 2020 at 3:02 PM”
Anonymous said…
Everyone should read “We keep the dead close” by Becky Cooper. It exposes the decades of sexism in the Harvard Anthropology department. There is a chapter on Kimberly Theidon that describes how Gary Urton sabotaged her tenure case. Sadly, from what I know about other cases, Urton has a long history of sabotaging women’s careers. The worst part is that he is a snake about it. He pretends to be a generous and kind scholar to your face while working behind the scenes to undermine you.

Both Lamberg-Karlovsky and Urton also have transparency and honesty issues with their research. They both hide inconvenient data (Urton ignored and didn’t publish inconvenient C14 data on the colonial khipus), suppress others with differing ideas, or sabotage people’s careers for often very petty insecurities. Urton even tried submitting false or misleading evidence to ODR. This just shows how much of a habit it is for these men to be dishonest. Lamberg-Karlovsky was called a “snake” by Ruth Tringham in the book. Highly recommend everyone to read the book to find out why.

In many ways, both are like the Trumpian academic. They don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. In the end, it’s a good story that will garner prestige and accolades.
Anonymous said…
“Lamberg-Karlovsky was called a “snake” by Ruth Tringham in the book.”
Then what is she doing now aiding another snake, Ran Boytner, who also sexually harassed a student in his Peru field school?
Anonymous said…
To anonymous June 11, 2021 at 2:53 PM, I wonder if Ruth Tringham is completely out of the loop and simply doesn’t know. I hope that people who know her can fill her in.
Michael Balter said…
I've known Ruth Tringham for more than 20 years. I have written her twice now about this with no answer. I hope that's because she is informing herself about the situation.
Anonymous said…
Hurray to Gay! This is a major victory to survivors. Urton was such a chief figure in Andean archaeology and his research continues to reverberate strong even if many would no longer admit it publicly. At a minimum, I suspect that this ruling will give pause to all those professors who view students as their puppets and create a lasting impact on the toxic dynamics in the field.
Anonymous said…
“I will say though that the rest of the board was as shocked as me when they heard and took this really seriously and took firm action and kicked Danielle and her field school out. I wish I had been told about the title IX at UCSB”

I want to trust Guedes when she says she didn’t know about Kurin’s title IX. I just can’t imagine someone who went through such a traumatic experience with Urton to keep silent when seeing similar or worse things happening to others. But as far as “the rest of the board” … well sorry, there’s strong evidence to suggest that at least some of them did know, and they only reacted when it was too late and more victims fell into that trap. It’s important to keep the record straight.
Michael Balter said…
I’m limited in what I can say by the lawsuit, but the question of who on the IFR board knew what and when depends on when particular members were on the board and what meetings they attended. I have known the answer to that since August 2020, shortly after the lawsuit was filed, which is that most members who were on the board in October 2016 knew that Kurin had been subject to a Title IX—despite constant denials.
Anonymous said…
Harvard anthro faculty Rowan Flad was among those who early on called for departmental sanctions against Urton, but only after Bikales broke the story and his own colleagues started to demand answers. Flad was also d'Alpoim Guedes’s PhD advisor, but if he was aware of the harassment he kept silent at the time. Flad is also an active member of the IFR board of directors, and still keeps his mouth shut on what transpired at Kurin’s field school. Flad was also a graduate student at UCLA along with Ran Boytner, and still refuses to say anything about that perpetrator’s Title ix case. Funny how otherwise well-educated colleagues still believe that if they close their eyes really really hard and count to ten (million), the monsters under the bed will simply go away.
Anonymous said…
The detailed list to add to the humiliation is interesting. They even took away his library privileges.

Anonymous said…
Yes, there was something incredibly shallow about Rowan Flad's performance in all this and that is why we keep UCLA's involvement under close scrutiny at another site on this blog. It is updated by many of us monthly. Again I want to thank Michael for maintaining all of this.

Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…June 11, 2021 at 5:13 PM
“I wonder if Ruth Tringham is completely out of the loop and simply doesn’t know.”
This is quite possible. As far as I know she doesn’t live in Los Angeles. If someone just put her name on an official CA Statement of Information without her knowledge, it’s not just fraud but also identity theft. It’s also weird that she’s identified in the document as “Secretary”, when the title of the undersigned Semerari is also (misspelled) “Secretery” instead of CEO. There is something very suspicious about all this. https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/Document/RetrievePDF?Id=04671879-30527141
Anonymous said…
Urton's behavior is not surprising. He received his Ph.D in anthropology at the University of Illinois.