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Arcadia University mishandled complaints that a professor was sexually harassing students, violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said Tuesday. 

The Office for Civil Rights found in its investigation that students and faculty reported the professor’s behavior to the Pennsylvania university between 2018 and 2021. Students even wrote about it on their course evaluations. 

“For example, a student stated that ‘[t]he professor made many sexual inappropriate comments on a regular basis. Everyone felt uncomfortable,’” the department said in a news release.

Despite the dean and chief of human resources receiving reports of the professor’s conduct, the university didn’t open an investigation until 2021, when it received a formal complaint. When the professor opted to retire instead of facing a hearing on the allegations, the university ceased its investigation, in violation of Title IX. Under the federal civil rights law, universities are required to address any effects of sexual harassment on impacted students.

As part of a resolution agreement reached with the department, the university agreed to have a third party complete its investigation of the formal complaint against the professor. In addition, the university will also conduct on its own a comprehensive investigation of the professor’s actions from 2018 till his resignation to determine whether those actions created a hostile environment on the basis of sex for other students and to offer remedies for affected students. The agreement further requires the university to review all Title IX complaints of sexual harassment stretching back three years.

“Arcadia University first ignored repeated notice that a professor serially harassed university students and then compounded the discriminatory harm—in violation of Title IX—when it ended its investigation based on the professor’s resignation, without determining whether university students needed action to end and redress a hostile environment resulting from multiyear sexual harassment,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said in the release. “Title IX requires more than Arcadia University provided here, and I appreciate the university’s commitment now to address that wrong and ensure that students learn in the university environment free from sex discrimination.”