Head of largest public university in US steps down after harassment scandal — Analysis

California State Chancellor, in spite of multiple allegations against him, supported a California State colleague for an award

On Thursday, the California State University (CSU), which is the US’ largest higher education institution of its kind, saw the chancellor resign following accusations that he refused to discipline one of his co-workers for allegedly sexual harassment.

Joseph Castro described his decision to resign as “the most difficult of my professional life.”

“While I disagree with many aspects of recent media reports and the ensuing commentary, it has become clear to me that resigning at this time is necessary so that the CSU can maintain its focus squarely on its educational mission and the impactful work yet to be done,”Castro stated this in a statement.

The university pledged to take more steps to eliminate sex discrimination against women and hold its staff accountable.

Sexual abuse victims to receive $490 million

Castro’s resignation came two weeks after an investigation by USA Today revealed that for years, he mishandled sexual harassment complaints when he was president of CSU Fresno. According to USA Today, Frank Lamas was the vice president for student affairs. Castro, however, refused to discipline Lamas. “glowing performance evaluations,”Lamas was endorsed by him to receive a lifetime achievement prize, which he won.

The complaints said Lamas stared at women’s breasts, touched women inappropriately, and made sexist remarks, among other things.

Castro authorized $260,000 to Lamas in 2020. He was then allowed to retire clean. Castro also reportedly wrote Lamas a recommendation letter.

Lamas denied any wrongdoing. Castro claimed earlier this month, that although he ultimately barred Lamas’ employment at CSU in the end, “certain aspects of the process should have been handled better.”

University of Michigan last month announced $490million to over 1,000 victims of sexual abuse by Dr. Robert Anderson. Anderson worked for the University of Michigan from 1966 through 2003. The university disclosed in 2020 that it was looking into multiple claims of Anderson’s abuse, which Anderson died from in 2008. The university is accused of not removing Anderson despite numerous complaints.

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