Singapore — The National University of Singapore (NUS) has dismissed a US-born political science professor due to sexual misconduct towards a student, it said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec 1).
An anonymous complaint regarding Professor Theodore Geoffrey Hopf, a Provost Chair Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, was first sent to the university in August this year.
The NUS then began investigations into the complaint.
Prof Hopf was given a No-Contact Order the following month, which disallowed him from reaching out to all NUS students. He was later suspended and ordered to stay outside the campus for the duration of the investigation.
On Oct 7, NUS appointed a Committee of Inquiry. It interviewed the student on Oct 21 in the presence of a care officer from the NUS Victim Care Unit.
Prof Hopf was interviewed on Nov 13, after he had returned from medical leave. According to the NUS statement, the professor had needed to seek treatment for a serious medical condition.
On Nov 18, at the end of its inquiry, the committee handed in its findings to NUS, which stated that Prof Hopf “had failed to act with propriety, respect, and decorum expected of a staff of the University” and “had sexually harassed the student in physical, verbal and written forms”.
“His conduct was a serious breach of the NUS Staff Code of Conduct,” added the university statement.
A police report concerning the incident was made on Nov 27, after NUS told the student that this would be done according to its legal obligations. The student has been given, and will continue to receive, care and support from the university.
The student, whose gender was not disclosed in the statement, said in the complaint that in August, at a meeting between the student and the professor on campus, Prof Hopf consumed alcohol with the student and “made an offensive remark about certain parts of the student’s anatomy”.
At the same meeting, Prof Hopf pulled the student to him twice, even though the student resisted him and told him to stop.
The student also said that, in October 2018, Prof Hopf had sent a sex-text message.
Prof Hopf, 61, had previously taught at Ohio State University, Ohio University and the University of Michigan in the United States.
This is the second time in a span of two months that an academic from NUS has been sacked for sexual misconduct.
On Oct 18, Dr Jeremy Fernando, a fellow at Tembusu College, was sacked by the NUS after it investigated allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving two female students. A police report was also filed against him. /TISG