HANOVER, N.H. – One of three Dartmouth College psychology professors facing sexual misconduct allegations has chosen to retire following an investigation and recommendation that the school fire him, the school's president said Thursday.
President Phil Hanlon announced Professor Todd Heatherton's retirement, effective immediately, in a letter to the Dartmouth community. Heatherton had been on sabbatical.
He and two other professors were accused last year of creating a "hostile academic environment" marked by excessive drinking, favoritism and, at times, inappropriate behavior.
"I retired because I thought it best for my family, the institution, and the graduate students involved," Heatherton said in a statement provided by his lawyers Thursday. "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."
Hanlon said Heatherton will continue to be prohibited from entering campus property or from attending any Dartmouth-sponsored events.
Hanlon said an outside investigator presented findings on Heatherton and Professors Paul Whalen and Bill Kelley to the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, Elizabeth Smith. She made recommendations on each professor, including that Dartmouth revoke Heatherton's tenured appointment and end his employment.
The recommendations were upheld by a review committee within arts and sciences. Hanlon said the recommendations on Kelley and Whalen, which he did not disclose, are now under review by a faculty-elected council. Once the reviews are complete, they will be brought before the board of trustees.
Whalen and Kelley remain on paid leave with restricted access to Dartmouth.
Hanlon said Dartmouth is still cooperating with law enforcement officials on their separate investigation.
Last year, 15 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students wrote to the school newspaper, The Dartmouth, alleging the three created a hostile environment "in which sexual harassment is normalized" and violated at least one campus policy related to sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or consensual relationships between students and faculty.
In interviews with the newspaper, several students described an uncomfortable workplace culture that blurred the line between professional and personal relationships and said they often felt pressured to drink at social events. One woman said she felt like she was being tested at one event when a professor put his arm around her and slid it down her body.
The newspaper did not identify the students, but said it confirmed their association with the psychology and brain sciences department.