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Responding to allegations of abuse against an emeritus faculty member

News of Note

Published June 2, 2021

Letter from President McCartney and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Thurston
June 2, 2021

Dear students, staff, faculty and alums,

Earlier today, the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, released a report that contained a list of 61 individuals against whom a credible sexual abuse allegation had been made during their employment with the diocese.

Included on that list is a lecturer who was hired by Smith College in 1989 and retired in 2016; since then, he has occasionally taught for the college. No allegations from anyone within the Smith community have been brought against this lecturer.

As soon as the college was notified of this list, we began a full review of the lecturer’s employment records. Included in those records is a 2001 letter from an individual to the college, alleging that this lecturer abused him in the 1970s when he was a student at the high school where the lecturer taught before Smith. The college administration consulted with its legal team at the time who advised no action on the college’s part. Twenty years later, this advice seems anachronistic and irresponsible.

Any allegation of sexual misconduct should have been, as it is now, fully and impartially investigated. Under current college policy, “Allegations of sexual misconduct, past or present, brought to the attention of any individual or office at Smith College, should be routed to the director of equal opportunity and compliance/Title IX coordinator.”

We write to inform you that the lecturer will not be teaching during the upcoming academic year, while we investigate further.

If you have experienced sexual misconduct in your time at Smith, you may file a report and the college will respond in accordance with its Sexual Misconduct Policy.

We assure you that we take seriously our obligation to maintain an environment that is free of sexual and gender-based harassment, abuse and violence.


Kathleen McCartney

Michael Thurston
Helen Means Professor of English Language and Literature
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Statement from Smith College
June 2, 2021

Yesterday, Smith College was notified about the pending release of a document by the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, that lists an emeritus faculty member as someone against whom an allegation of abuse has been made. 

There are no allegations of abuse during this employee’s tenure at the college. Nevertheless, we take any allegation of sexual misconduct seriously

The college is looking into this matter and will share any further updates with the community.