A James B. Duke professor of chemistry has left the University amid allegations of harassment.
Bertram Fraser-Reid, once nominated for a Nobel Prize in chemistry, announced his retirement last week. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs, said in a written statement that Fraser-Reid was retiring from the University, but did not specify the reason for his departure. The statement did, however, refer to the University's policy on harassment:
"Harassment of any kind is not acceptable at Duke. The University's harassment policy makes clear that we will not tolerate the creation of a hostile or intimidating environment in which verbal or physical contact, because of its severity and/or persistence, is likely to interfere significantly with an individual's work or education or adversely affect an individual's living conditions. When investigations of formal complaints confirm the existence of the alleged behavior, the university will take appropriate action.
"Privacy restrictions and the university's harassment policy preclude public comment on specific cases."
A source in the chemistry department confirmed that allegations of harassment were involved in Fraser-Reid's departure, but declined to comment specifically on them.
Judith White, special assistant to the president and sexual harassment prevention coordinator, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Steven Baldwin, chair of the department, declined to comment on the allegations. "All I've been told is that he will retire," Baldwin said. "I know the bottom line. The bottom line is that he won't be back."
Several students said that Fraser-Reid was a very popular professor and that they are sorry to see him go.
"He's easily one of the most influential professors I've had at Duke--the friendliest, the most outgoing and the kindest," said Trinity senior Tariq El-Haddad, who took Fraser-Reid's undergraduate organic chemistry class.
Baldwin said that Fraser-Reid will be missed in the department. "You can't lose a person like that and not have it have an impact," he said. "However, we're a strong department, and we will recover in a relatively short period of time."