Hampshire College removes founding professor’s name from campus over ‘inappropriate behavior’

  • Hampshire College's campus. STAFF FILE PHOTO/Amanda Schwengel

  • LESTER MAZOR LESTER MAZOR

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2018 1:42:55 PM

AMHERST — Hampshire College is removing the name of one of the college’s founding professors from campus after an investigation revealed “inappropriate behavior.”

In a letter to the Hampshire community, the college’s president and vice president for academic affairs said that the school has removed the name of Lester Mazor, a professor of law from 1970 until 2007, from an endowed fund and from a room on campus. The decision came after an alumna came forward with allegations about Mazor’s behavior in the 1970s. Mazor died in 2011.

“We recognize how difficult it is to revisit painful occurrences, and we respect our alumna’s courage in coming forward to share them,” President Miriam Nelson and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Eva Rueschmann wrote in their letter, adding that the college has issued that alumna a formal apology.

Nelson and Rueschmann added that the college had heard additional allegations of “inappropriate behavior” during its investigation, which was begun last spring under then-President Jonathan Lash. The college declined to say what “inappropriate behavior” Mazor is accused of, but the letter does refer to sexual harassment.

“Some may call into question the College’s actions since Professor Mazor cannot defend himself and because these actions date from decades ago,” Nelson and Rueschmann wrote. “This era has brought long-needed attention to issues of sexual harassment and we want there to be no confusion at Hampshire over what behaviors were and are inappropriate.”

The college’s Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees voted on the decision to remove Mazor’s name from the fund and room after reviewing the investigation.

Hampshire College is currently updating its sexual harassment policies for faculty, students and staff engagement, according to the letter.

In addition to law, Mazor taught classes in history, philosophy and social justice at the college, according to his 2011 obituary in the Gazette. He was a frequent lecturer in eastern Europe, and was a visiting professor at Anhui University in Hefei, China, and the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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