BERKELEY — A prominent UC Berkeley professor investigated by the school after a sexual harassment complaint in 2016 won't be paid for the next three years.
Nezar AlSayyad, a professor of city and regional planning and architecture, has been suspended for three years without pay following an investigation that he sexually harassed a graduate student. The university confirmed the suspension in a statement released by campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore.
Chancellor Carol Christ imposed the suspension after the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination — the university's Title IX office — investigated, and a committee on the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate held evidence hearings.
"The harassment of students by faculty carries the potential for enormous harm," Christ said in the statement. "It is wholly unacceptable, and we will not tolerate such behavior on this campus."
The university said its investigation found that AlSayyad "engaged in a pattern of unwelcome, manipulative and divisive behavior toward the graduate student and toward his faculty colleagues" from 2012-14. That pattern "created a hostile environment."
AlSayyad may not teach or supervise new graduate students during his suspension, and he's barred from serving as the principal investigator on any grants administered through university. He will not have the same access to the campus granted to a professor and instead will have only the same access available to the public, the university said.
The decision came down Aug. 13.
The investigation stemmed from a report in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2016 that AlSayyad placed his hand on the upper thigh of a graduate student and proposed that they become "close friends." AlSayyad was barred from teaching the next semester.
Attempts to contact AlSayyad on Monday afternoon were unsuccessful. He denied the claims when they first came to the public's attention in 2016 in an interview the Chronicle. Shortly after the Chronicle's original report, the university let his students switch to new instructors with just weeks left in the semester.
At that time, Larry Kamer, a crisis management consultant representing AlSayyad, said the actions violated his due process. Kamer said by email Monday that he has not represented AlSayyad for more than a year.
In a university profile, AlSayyad philosophized "that history is neither the knowledge of things that have occurred in the past, nor the memory of these past events, but rather it is the convergence of these events with certain individuals or communities and in specific places as interpreted by others who are usually removed from the time and place of these events."
AlSayyad's profile was up to date Monday afternoon, with a disclaimer above it that says he will be "away until fall 2021."