Recently, members of our community have raised concerns about the assignment of endowed professorships to individuals who have violated University policies. We understand those concerns and agree with a number of the points made. For example, we agree that in cases where someone has been found, through a formal process, to have violated university standards of conduct, there should be a presumption against awarding new honorifics. We also support the authority of formal disciplinary boards, such as the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct and the Faculty Standards Review Committee, to recommend as possible sanctions, the removal of or future ineligibility for honorific appointments. We realize that recent announcements about a specific circumstance may appear to be at odds with these statements and want to take this opportunity to provide clarification.
Dr. Michael Simons was awarded the Robert W. Berliner Professorship of Medicine in October 2008 upon his arrival at Yale School of Medicine. The Berliner Professorship is named in honor of a former Dean of the Yale School of Medicine. In the past months, the Berliner family expressed concerns that Dr. Simons continued to hold this professorship. In light of these concerns and to appropriately honor the newly recruited School of Medicine Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, the Berliner Professorship was reassigned to Dr. Eric Velazquez, and Dr. Simons accepted a transfer to the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professorship. In making this transfer, the University had no intention to confer a new honor on Dr. Simons.
We share the community’s strong and unflagging commitment to uphold standards of conduct essential to the maintenance of a safe, respectful, and inclusive campus. And we rely on the community’s ongoing engagement, including its questions and criticism as well as its creativity and contributions, in our efforts to realize that commitment.