It wasn’t a good year for Columbia Business School with some shocking sexually-related cases of harassment and abuse. First was the case of a senior professor — Geert Bekaert — who was accused by a junior professor and his mentee of sexual harassment. But what was in extra shocking was how Bekaert handled the allegations. Soon after learning of the accusations of Enrichetta Ravina, he send a blaze of emails to colleagues around the world calling the young professional “a fucking evil bitch,” “crazy,” “insane,” “mentally unstable,” “paranoid,” “schizophrenic,” and “berserk.” At one point, Bekaert confessed that he wanted to strangle her.
The trial, which eventually led to a $1.25 million payout for Ravina from Columbia’s B-school and Bekaert, was an unraveling of a once promising faculty partnership. Bakaert, who is 11 years older than Ravina, held some power over Ravina and her career at Columbia. Ravina accused Bekaert — one of Columbia Business School’s most senior professors — of abusing that power by sexually harassing her for more than a year, and then sabotaging her academic career when she continually fended off his alleged attempts to get her to go to on dates with him.
At one point, she claims, Bekaert, who had a major influence over her ability to publish academic research vital to a forthcoming tenure decision, told her: “If you were nicer to me, your papers would move faster.”
“I’m already as nice as I can be,” she said she responded.
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This past July, as the $30 million case between two Columbia Business School professors was taking place, CBS Dean Glen Hubbard testified in court, calling the dispute “disgraceful,” “unprofessional,” and a “soap opera.”
“I’ve been teaching 35 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Hubbard told a New York City courtroom in mid-July. “The most common dispute — and even that I could count fingers on one hand — would be a teaching dispute, you know, who developed what materials for class, but I have never had to referee something like this in 35 years of being an economist.”
Hubbard, who has been Columbia B-School’s dean since 2004, was wary to get in the middle of the dispute, though he did try to resolve it on several occasions.
“It was serious,” he later testified, “because that involved their professional lack of communication, and I thought it was a soap opera. Sitting here today, I think it.”