1992/1993: Holtzman's first year at Oberlin. Christine Hart, who worked as an animal caretaker in Holtzman's laboratory, filed the only formal complaint ever filed against Holtzman under Oberlin's sexual offense policy. She later withdrew her complaint. A neuroscience student, Catherine Clarke, also brought allegations of sexual misconduct to McCormick. Holtzman met with former Director of Human Resources A.G. Monaco, who counseled Holtzman on what sexual harassment is and what kind of behaviors he should not be in engaged in.
Fall of 1995, early 1996: Another student, Valerie Simons, approaches McCormick with allegations of sexual misconduct. McCormick and Simon both approach Dye regarding their concerns about Holtzman.
Spring of 1996: Camille Mitchell, Assistant to the President for Equity Concerns and the Sexual Offense policy administrator, conducts an investigation of Holtzman's alleged violation of the sexual offense policy.
May 8, 1995: Since individuals who claimed Holtzman's interactions with them violated the sexual offense policy were unwilling to come forward and file formal complaints with their names attached to them, Mitchell found no cause for initiating a formal hearing by the Sexual Offense Review Commitee (SORC), and submitted a report to Helm, who then began his own investigation.
May 23, 1996: Report of the College Faculty's evaluation of Holtzman, as an untenured faculty member in a continuing position, is released. The College Faculty gave Holtzman a positive evaluation, stating, "The College Faculty Council find that you are making progress toward achievements that will meet the standards of excellence expected of a member of the Oberlin faculty for reappointment with tenure. We especially congratulate you on your strong research program and the involvement of students in it. We note progress in your teaching and hope for continued improvement. We do expect you to address your department's concerns regarding your interactions with students." Throughout his career at Oberlin, Holtzman has received merit pay increases and favorable reviews. Neuroscience faculty have a meeting regarding Holtzman's alleged misconduct.
Late spring semester, early June: Helm does not file a complaint about Holtzman with SORC or the PCRC, though investigation uncovers additional material alleging inappropriate behavior. Instead, Helm offered Holtzman the alternative of resigning or undergoing the scrutiny of the Professional Conduct Review Committee (PCRC). Holtzman said he could not defend himself against charges with no names or dates attached to them. Diana Robbins, a student, brought concerns about Holtzman's behavior to McCormick.
June 4, 1996: Dye meets with Koppes, Helm and members of the Neuroscience Program, who say they feel that they can no longer teach with Holtzman.
June 31, 1996: Koppes assumes acting deanship and continues Helm's investigation.
Late August, 1996: More people with complaints about Holtzman's behavior have come forward and are willing to allow their names be known and attached to specific events. Koppes does not file complaints with SORC or PCRC, nor release specific information to Holtzman. The final report of the PCRC's investigative panel states that reports available to Koppes at this time "indicate that warnings and requests that Holtzman modify his behavior made in some quarters did lead him to modify his behavior in those quarters but that his behavior did not seem to change with respect to other people." Holtzman continued to supervise students in his laboratory throughout the summer. Meeting between Dye, Helm, Koppes and members of the Neuroscience Program ends with agreement to suspend Holtzman from teaching and advising during 1996-97 and hire someone to replace him. Holtzman is not present at this meeting. Letters between Koppes and Holtzman during the last week of August raise the issue of Holtzman's not teaching. Holtzman does not agree to seperate from the College, nor does the College accept his terms for resignation. The decision to suspend Holtzman and removed him from the classroom was made with the advice of the Association of American University Professors council and ratified by the CFC and GFC in accordance with provisions for such an action in the College bylaws. Holtzman files complaints against McCormick, Helm and Koppes with the PCRC.
Sept. 3, 1996: Classes begin. Holtzman attends the sections he is scheduled to teach, but they are postponed as a result of his presence. He contends he was not officially informed that he was not teaching.
Sept. 5, 1996: Date of Dye's letter to Holtzman informing him that he will not be allowed to teach or advise. Holtzman attends sections of the classes he was originally scheduled to teach, but they are again postponed. Dennison Smith, professor of neuroscience, told students that class was postponed "due to events beyond my control." Around this time, Holtzman is placed on paid leave at his request, but is restricted from contact with students. Though the GFC voted to suspend Holtzman, Dye granted Holtzman the paid leave at his request, agreeing not to levy the suspension if Holtzman agreed not to attend class.
Sept. 9, 1996: Holtzman files $1 million discrimination lawsuit against Oberlin College with the U.S. District Court in Cleveland, alleging he has been denied equal treatment as an Oberlin College employee because he is Hispanic-American.
Sept. 11, 1996: Koppes files charges with the PCRC against Holtzman. Judge Solomon Oliver denies Holtzman a temporary restraining order that he requested. The restraining order would have allowed Holtzman to teach classes without interference from the College. Oliver wrote, in his decision, "The plaintiff did not demonstrate that he was likely to succeed on the merits of his claim, or that the harm he faced was irreparable."
Sept. 13, 1996: Letter written by Holtzman and published in Review alleges that his courses were cancelled without his consent and advisees were taken away without his consent. Holtzman accuses the College of not following proper procedure in cancelling his teaching. He wrote, "Before any formal complaints have been made against me and before review by the appropriate review committees, specifically the College administration, specifically the dean of the college and the president, has sought recommendations for my removal from teacher."
Oct. 31, 1996: The hearing on request for a preliminary injunction begins. A preliminary injunction would enable Holtzman to resume teaching duties. Koppes and Dye both testify. Throughout the fall, the investigative panel of the PCRC investigates Koppes' and Holtzman's complaints.
Nov. 27, 1996: The investigative panel of the PCRC concludes its investigation and recommends that the "matters placed before it be forwarded to the Hearing Panel of the PCRC, and, with respect to one subset of allegations, to Camille Mitchell in her capacity as Administrator of the College's sexual offense policy."
Dec. 13, 1996:Hearings continue in Holtzman's request for a preliminary injunction. Professor of Biology Richard Levin, Holtzman's adviser, and Holtzman testify.
Late January, early February 1997: Anonymous packages containing selections from Levin's testimony, the PCRC final investigative report and a letter for a member of the Visiting Committee stating that she does not want to be involved with the Visiting Committee anymore because of what she alleges to be unfair treatment by the College is mailed to random members of the College faculty and administration.
Feb. 12, 1997: Hearings continue in Holtzman's request for a preliminary injunction. Dye and McCormick testify. Judge concludes the hearing.
Feb. 14, 1997: Letter printed in the Observer and signed by members of the faculty comdemns anonymous mailing.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 14; February 14, 1997
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