CU reaches settlement with tenured professor in contested dismissal

Philosophy department’s Barnett will leave CU-Boulder
By Staff

CU has reached a legal settlement with David Barnett, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at CU-Boulder, which results in him leaving the campus.

CU-Boulder announced the settlement Tuesday.

The university last summer filed a notice of intent to dismiss Barnett in the aftermath of a settlement with a student who made a sexual harassment claim against a doctoral student in the department. Barnett appealed, which led the Faculty Council’s Privilege and Tenure Committee to hold hearings on the case. The committee’s recommendation to administration was a one-year suspension rather than termination.

“I received the recommendations of the Privilege and Tenure Committee, which determined that Professor Barnett engaged in conduct below minimum standards of professional integrity, but recommended that he return to the campus after a year of suspension,” CU President Bruce Benson said in a statement. “Rather than face the possibility of years of litigation and the possibility that Professor Barnett would return to campus at the conclusion of a lawsuit, I believed the best course of action was to negotiate a resolution that permanently separates him from the University of Colorado. We will continue to hold our faculty to high standards of professional conduct.”

CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano said the legal settlements are among “a number of pro-active steps to set the philosophy department on the right course to success.”

“This action is part of our ongoing efforts to support the department’s work to make improvements in the workplace and academic culture over the last 16 months, while continuing to build a supportive environment for women as faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates both in the department and across the CU-Boulder campus,” DiStefano said in a statement. “This settlement will provide finality on the dismissal proceeding against Professor Barnett and avoid years of ongoing litigation. I am thankful for the work that the Faculty Senate Committee on Privilege and Tenure performed in this case, and I also appreciate the work that was done by the former Office of Discrimination and Harassment, which is now the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.

“Since the Boulder campus created this office last year under Valerie Simons’ leadership, we have seen ongoing improvements in our compliance capabilities and our campus culture. I am confident that our efforts will be successful and that this campus will be viewed as a leader among institutions of higher education in creating a campus culture free of discrimination and harassment.”

Simons, CU-Boulder director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance and Title IX coordinator, also issued a statement:

“This settlement is an important step forward for the Boulder campus in our efforts to ensure that we are taking appropriate steps toward creating a campus culture that does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”

See the complete statements here.