Saturday, March 25

Discrimination dispute settled


Former biomathematics professor retracts claims of gender bias, acknowledges improper behavior

The university put the lid on a years-old dispute, settling a
case with a professor who had claimed gender discrimination and who
had been accused of inappropriate behavior.

In early 2005, the university brought charges against Dr. Sally
Blower, who was then a professor in the biomathematics department
of the UCLA School of Medicine, accusing her of threatening
students and harassing faculty.

Blower has left the Department of Biomathematics and is
currently a professor in residence at the Semel Institute for
Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the Department of
Psychiatry.

Though trouble had been brewing through 2004, the matter came to
a head in early 2005 when the university brought charges against
Blower.

In an article published in April 2005, Science magazine reported
that the charges against Blower included failure to hold
examinations as scheduled, use of her position to coerce students,
verbal abuse, false statements and disparagement and harassment of
faculty members.

At the time, Blower vehemently denied all of the accusations
against her. She told the Daily Bruin in April 2005 that the
charges were “ridiculous.”

She and her husband, Nelson Freimer, now a UCLA professor of
psychiatry and behavioral science in the neuroscience department,
claimed the university was trying to push her out of the
department.

But now her tune has changed completely.

A statement released by the university on Tuesday said Blower
“acknowledges that over the course of several years her
behavior was at times inappropriate.”

The statement also read that Blower admitted “her
disparaging statements about the Department of Biomathematics …
and the university were unwarranted. … Professor Blower further
acknowledges that she has not been the subject of gender
discrimination, retaliation, harassment or improper exclusion of
departmental activities,” the statement read.

There were many competing accusations and claims surrounding the
case in 2005 ““ with some defending her, some attacking her,
and others attributing the situation to a hostile working
environment and gender discrimination against Blower.

But now all those opposing voices are silent.

According to the press release, Blower and the university have
“agreed to make no further public statements” and
university officials said no one at UCLA would be able to comment
on the case or the settlement.

Susanne Lohmann, a political science professor, said she is a
friend of Blower’s and has followed the case closely for
several years. In the past, she has been vocal about the
circumstances surrounding Blower’s case.

But now she said she is unable to say anything.

When asked to discuss the case and the recent settlement,
Lohmann said, “No comment. I am not allowed to speak to
you.”

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