Ex-pro­fes­sor re­signs from SJSU

Lewis Aptekar was sched­uled to teach again af­ter ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment of a stu­dent in 2015, and cam­pus protests

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Emily DeRuy ederuy@ba­yare­anews­group.com

SAN JOSE » Lewis Aptekar, the San Jose State pro­fes­sor who faced mul­ti­ple al­le­ga­tions of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing stu­dents in 2015, is leav­ing the univer­sity.

“I’m writ­ing to let you know that, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, Dr. Lewis Aptekar has re­signed from his fac­ulty po­si­tion,” Paul Cas­cella, in­terim dean of the Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion, wrote Thurs­day in an email to fac­ulty in the coun­selor ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment.

The univer­sity will pay Aptekar $75,000 and will re­move ref­er­ences to his sus­pen­sion from his per­son­nel file, ac­cord­ing to a set­tle­ment reached with the univer­sity — a copy of which was ob­tained by the Mer­cury News.

Aptekar, 72, had al­leged that the univer­sity vi­o­lated his due process rights dur­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sex­ual ha­rass­ment claim against him, a claim the univer­sity de­nied. “This set­tle­ment is a com­pro­mise of dis­puted claims and is not an ad­mis­sion by any party of any li­a­bil­ity,” the doc­u­ment says.

The pro­fes­sor, who has faced mul­ti­ple al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the last sev­eral years, had been sched­uled to re­turn to teach­ing this se­mes­ter af­ter a tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion. But he was re­moved from the teach­ing ros­ter af­ter stu­dents and fel­low pro­fes­sors

“I can’t be­lieve it took this long, hon­estly. It feels sur­real be­causewe fought so hard.” — Va­lerie Lamb, a grad­u­ate stu­dent in the coun­selor ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment

protested his re­turn.

On Sept. 30, Aptekar sent a one-sen­tence res­ig­na­tion let­ter to the in­terim se­nior as­so­ci­ate vice pres­i­dent of univer­sity per­son­nel, El­iz­a­beth Pugliese, say­ing he was step­ping down “due to per­sonal rea­sons.”

As part of the set­tle­ment, Aptekar’s res­ig­na­tion is ir­rev­o­ca­ble. He has also agreed not to ac­cept any job of­fer within the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity sys­tem.

Ac­cord­ing to the set­tle­ment, the univer­sity has agreed to pro­vide Aptekar’s prospec­tive em­ploy­ers only the date he was hired, the date he re­signed, the po­si­tion he held and his salary. But “be­cause of free speech pro­tec­tions, the univer­sity can­not con­trol in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by non-ad­min­is­tra­tors,” the set­tle­ment notes.

Un­der the set­tle­ment, Aptekar will re­tain fac­ulty mem­ber ac­cess to the univer­sity’s li­brary sys­tem.

Nei­ther Aptekar nor his lawyer could be reached for com­ment on Thurs­day.

In 2016, the Mer­cury News re­vealed that Aptekar had re­mained the head of the coun­selor ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment for nearly five months af­ter the school con­cluded he sex­u­ally ha­rassed a stu­dent. Later, it came to light that Aptekar had been ac­cused of mak­ing sex­u­ally charged com­ments to stu­dents in 2014.

“I can’t be­lieve it took this long, hon­estly,” said Va­lerie Lamb, a grad­u­ate stu­dent in the coun­selor ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment who had or­ga­nized a sit-in protest­ing Aptekar’s pres­ence on cam­pus. “It feels sur­real be­cause we fought so hard.”

“I’m re­lieved we won’t have to deal with this any­more, but I’m dis­ap­pointed with the way it was han­dled,” Lamb added. “He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last pro­fes­sor to do this, and I hope San Jose State will take ini­tia­tive when they find a pro­fes­sor has sex­u­ally ha­rassed a stu­dent.”


Lewis Aptekar has re­signed his teach­ing po­si­tion at San Jose State Univer­sity.

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