ETH Zurich publishes investigation report

A number of recent media reports on the request for dismissal of an ETH astronomy professor have included quotes from internal and confidential documents relating to the ongoing proceedings. Given the growing public interest, as well as the need to ensure transparency and fairness, ETH Zurich has decided to publish anonymised versions of the final report of the administrative investigation and the recommendation of the special committee.

Several weeks ago, ETH Zurich submitted a request to the ETH Board for the dismissal of a professor in the former Institute for Astronomy . This decision was based on the final report of an administrative investigation conducted by an independent external investigator, as well as the recommendation of a committee comprising three internal and three external professors tasked with reviewing whether dismissal was appropriate. In addition to the proven misconduct, the basis of the Executive Board’s decision rested primarily on the fact that the professor showed a lack of insight throughout the entire proceedings and still does not see how her behaviour constitutes serious misconduct over an extended period.

Anonymised versions of the investigation report and the committee’s recommendation are now available for download here:

The university has decided to publish these documents now, rather than after the completion of dismissal proceedings (as previously timetabled). This is because various media outlets are in possession of not only the final investigation report, but also many of the documents serving as its basis, and have published extensive quotations from them. This has increased public interest, while at the same time distorting the available information. ETH Zurich is seeking to address this imbalance by bringing forward the publication of the final report and the recommendation of the special committee.

Going forward, ETH Zurich will make every effort to ensure that conflicts are resolved before escalating into extensive legal proceedings like administrative investigations and especially before becoming extreme cases involving dismissal proceedings. As announced at the press conference on 14 March 2019, the university is in the process of adapting its structures and processes in line with this goal and will launch a series of measures intended to improve management and supervision. The Executive Board sees prevention, management, and the concrete handling of actual conflicts as the areas in most need of improvement. The supervision of doctoral students will receive particular attention.