Former Psychology Professor Robert Kurzban has resigned from Penn as of early this month, according to an email from Psychology department chair Sharon Thompson-Schill. This came two months after allegations first emerged that Kurzban had multiple inappropriate relationships with students he had been directly overseeing, violating University policy.
"Professor Kurzban informs me that, although he denies the allegations that he violated University policy, he felt that the publicity surrounding some of his social life made it in his and the University’s best interests for him to resign voluntarily," Thompson-Schill wrote in the July 2 email addressed to faculty, staff and graduate students in the Psychology department. "The University has now accepted Professor Kurzban’s resignation."
Penn spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy confirmed that the University has accepted Kurzban's resignation.
Kurzban, then Undergraduate Chair of the Psychology Department, came under University investigation in Spring 2018 when The Daily Pennsylvanian published allegations that he engaged in multiple romantic relationships with students under his purview as an instructor and advisor in apparent violation of Penn policy. In response to these allegations, Kurzban has said he "would never intentionally violate" University policy, and that he did not think the relationships were inappropriate.
Thompson-Schill said in her email that the department has been working to create more open dialogue around issues such as misconduct and communication.
"Because no one on the faculty had any idea that anyone in the department was involved in anything like the behavior described in the DP articles, it is evident that we need work to foster an atmosphere of open communication," she wrote.
Thompson-Schill added in her email that the Psychology department has been in contact with both the Department of Public Safety and Penn's Sexual Violence Investigative Officer to learn about the offices' efforts to educate staff and students about preventing and reporting sexual violence on campus.
"When we return to campus for the Fall semester, we will be arranging meetings for students and for faculty so we are all more informed about how we can respond when someone comes to us with a concern or when we hear of behavior that is inappropriate or possibly so," Thompson-Schill said in the email.
In late April, the same day that the DP published a story detailing allegations of romantic encounters between Kurzban and one of his advisees, Kurzban stepped down as the president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, a role that he was elected to occupy from 2017-2019.
Thompson-Schill confirmed the next day that Kurzban had also been dismissed from his post as the director of the honors program in the Psychology department. While originally slated to teach the Senior Seminar in Psychology class in the fall semester, Kurzban was removed from the course roster following these allegations.
Kurzban confirmed that he has left Penn, but declined to address questions asking whether he would be teaching at another university.
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