University of Washington Just Fired a Tenured Professor

Michael Katze was investigated for sexual harassment and misuse of funds.

August 4, 2017 3:47 pm

The University of Washington just fired a tenured professor, Michael Katze, more than 18 months after two investigations found he sexually harassed employees and misused university money.

Victor Balta, UW’s senior director of media relations, said that it is the first time the school has fired a tenured professor.

“This is unprecedented,” Balta said to BuzzFeed

Katze’s research brought in millions of dollars to the school, but over the past decade, the university had received at least seven complaints about Katze’s behavior, including that he watched porn on his university computer and was frequently intoxicated in the lab.

In January of 2016, a university investigation determined that Katze had violated the school’s sexual harassment policies with two employees, reports BuzzFeed. Then, a second investigation, conducted this time by the UW School of Medicine, concluded that Katze had “university funds, including by asking an employee to do chores for him and solicit a prostitute.”

BuzzFeed News first reported that the university determined Katze had hired on of the employees on the implicit condition that she answer his sexual demands. It also said that Katze sexually harassed a second employee — he asked the employee to buy him drugs and email escorts.

Also, since February 2016, there has been a faculty adjudication panel weighing whether or not Katze’s tenured professor position should be terminated. Katze sued the university for violating his tenure rights by placing him on home assignment away from his laboratory during the investigation. He lost the case.

The investigation included interviews with 26 former and current members of Katze’s research group and colleagues. It was also determined that he used racist and sexist slurs.

Some people in the University of Washington community are mad that it took this long to deal with the case, and criticized UW for lack of transparency. One female staff member, who remained anonymous to Buzzfeed said, “What’s the UW doing to prevent this from happening again? How are we protecting women in science at our institution? And why the hell has this taken so long?”

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