SF State Terminates Adjunct Status of World Renowned Astronomy Professor


Photo Courtesy Adrianne Bee, SF State

Photo Courtesy Adrianne Bee, SF State
Photo Courtesy Adrianne Bee, SF State

SF State terminated the 16 year-long adjunct status of world renowned astronomy professor Geoffrey Marcy in response to reports of a sexual harassment scandal at the University of California, Berkeley Oct. 14., according to Interim Associate Vice President Adrianne Bee.

Marcy, who taught at SF State prior to teaching at UC Berkeley, was the subject of a six-month long investigation by the UC, which brought accusations of his sexual harassment of students from 2001 to 2010 to light, according to a Mercury News report. Marcy was an adjunct professor at SF State from 1999 to 2015, university officials said.

Some of the complainants in the investigation reported unwanted and inappropriate touching by Marcy, according to a report by BuzzFeed News.

“Geoffrey Marcy’s scientific discoveries made at SF State have long been a source of pride for the University, but the investigation into his behavior at UC Berkeley has prompted our department of physics and astronomy to terminate his adjunct status with SF State effective Oct. 14,” Bee wrote in a statement.

Marcy worked in the physics and astronomy department at SF State for 15 years, winning several awards during his time at the University, according to his personal website. Marcy was ABC News Hour’s Person of the Week in January 1996. He became a California Academy of Sciences Fellow that same year and was awarded the first ever International Astronomical Union Commission 51 bio-astronomy Medal of Honor in 1997.

Marcy resigned from his position as professor in the astronomy department at UC Berkeley Oct. 14, according to Janet Gilmore of UC Berkeley’s media relations. An email was sent to the University community announcing his resignation.

“Before describing the disciplinary options that were available to us, we want to state unequivocally that Professor Marcy’s conduct, as determined by the investigation, was contemptible and inexcusable,” the e-mail said. “We also want to express our sympathy to the women who were victimized, and we deeply regret the pain they have suffered.”

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported Oct. 17 that two former SF State astronomy students have also accused Marcy of sexual harassment during his time at the University.

An open letter of apology to the women of the astronomy community can be found on Marcy’s personal website.

“While I do not agree with each complaint that was made, it is clear that my behavior was unwelcomed by some women,” Marcy stated in the letter.  “I take full responsibility and hold myself completely accountable for my actions and the impact they had. For that and to the women affected, I sincerely apologize.”

Professors from SF State’s astronomy and physics department have released a statement on behalf of the college expressing their displeasure with Marcy’s actions.

“We strongly support the women affected by such breaches of trust and those who come forward to make it stop,” the letter states. “We call on all members of the scientific community and the institutions in which we work to make a renewed, public, serious, and enforceable commitment to preventing sexual harassment and all forms of discrimination in our profession and in our institutions.”