UCI News

UCI proposes new name for School of Biological Sciences, science library after internal investigation substantiates sexual harassment claims against signature donor

June 28, 2018

IRVINE, Calif., June 28, 2018 – The University of California, Irvine is taking steps to remove the Ayala name from its biology school and central science library after an internal investigation substantiated a number of sexual harassment claims against Francisco J. Ayala, the signature donor of both institutions.

The investigation by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD) began in November 2017 and ended in May 2018. Four women from the School of Biological Sciences, who asked to be identified, filed reports with the OEOD: Kathleen Treseder, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology; Jessica Pratt, assistant teaching professor; Benedicte Shipley, assistant dean; and Michelle Herrera, graduate student. The investigators interviewed more than 60 witnesses, in addition to the four complainants.

“I thank and commend our colleagues who reported this misconduct,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Coming forward with this information was extremely courageous. I applaud their bravery and apologize that they experienced inappropriate behavior from a member of our faculty. Professor Ayala’s behavior defied our core beliefs and was inconsistent with our policies, guidelines and required training. Given the number and breadth of the substantiated allegations, and the power differentials at play, I decided that keeping Professor Ayala’s name in a position of honor would be wrong.”

Gillman also authorized the removal of the Ayala name from graduate fellowships, scholar programs, and endowed chairs. He said that Ayala resigned effective July 1, 2018, and will abstain from future university activities, following the university’s standard consultative procedures that include a faculty review committee.

As a result of the renaming actions, which were approved in accordance with applicable university policy, the biology school will now be known as the UCI School of Biological Sciences. UCI’s diversity advisors are reaching out to the school’s faculty, students, staff and administration to provide counseling services, culture assessments and additional harassment-related education. The university is committed to providing an environment in which ideas and knowledge can thrive without fear of harassment, mistreatment or retaliation.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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