Professor of Leiden University who has been suspended is a prominent archaeologist

The renowned Dutch newspaper NRC writes that the Leiden University wants to dismiss the prominent archaeologist Corinne Hofman after nineteen reports of long-term misconduct, among other things. President of the Executive Board Ottow speaks of discrimination, manipulation, shouting, and bullying.  Professor of archaeology Corinne Hofman has been suspended because, according to the university, she is guilty of “abuse of power and manipulation”.

Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University Photo Wouter de Wilde

Leiden University wants to dismiss the prominent professor of archaeology after “long-term” undesirable and “often transgressive” behavior. It is the second time in a short period that the university has removed a prominent professor because of transgressive behavior. Various sources confirm to NRC that this time it is the acclaimed professor of archaeology Corinne Hofman.

The university itself does not mention the names of those involved. This is because of “careful employment practices” and privacy legislation, according to President of the Executive Board Annetje Ottow. According to the university, the professor was guilty of “abuse of power and manipulation”. That led to “a culture of fear among employees” who were “largely dependent on her.”

According to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Corinne Hofman is “one of the world’s leading archaeologists”. She is considered an authority in Caribbean archaeology and has conducted research on the island of Saba, among other places. She has been affiliated with Leiden University for three decades, as a professor since 2007. In 2014 she received the Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch scientific award. She also held administrative positions, for example, she was dean of the Faculty of Archaeology between 2013 and 2018.

Socially undesirable behavior

In October 2022, the university forced a well-known astronomy professor to leave after he had engaged in intimidating and undesirable behavior for “several years.” In his case, this included sexually transgressive behavior against female colleagues. Insufficient action was taken with earlier signals that things were wrong, Leiden President Annetje Ottow acknowledged to NRC at the time. “They have not been taken seriously enough and have not been taken seriously enough.

” We should have intervened sooner’, says the President of the Executive Board about the intimidating behavior of a Leiden professor. ‘We should have intervened sooner’, says the President of the Executive Board about the intimidating behavior of a Leiden professor. There was no question of sexually transgressive behavior in the now-known case, Ottow emphatically states. Not even plagiarism. However, the professor was guilty of “socially undesirable behavior”, together with her partner, a colleague, and a former employee of the University. Ottow speaks of intimidation, discrimination, manipulation, shouting, and bullying. The two are also said to have abused their position of power and openly questioned the quality of employees.

A total of nineteen people have made a report, including PhD candidates and students, who worked with Hofman or her partner in the period 1990-2023. “The majority of the reports concern incidents from (many) years ago,” says Ottow. When asked, the president of the Executive Board said that “the administrative functions held by the defendant made it more difficult to report”.

From autumn 2023, a committee set up by the university board, described by Ottow as “independent”, investigated the reports received through the current dean of the Faculty of Archaeology. The committee was chaired by Associate Professor of Employment Law Yvonne Erkens.

According to the investigative committee, it is “plausible” that Hofman and her partner also “violated scientific integrity”. They would have done this by “gaining access to data of other employees and monopolizing (access to) data”. According to the researchers, it is also “plausible” that the duo appropriated research material from third parties without the required permission. Ottow: “This behaviour also counts as a violation of scientific integrity.”

When asked what is meant by “plausible”, Ottow states that “hard evidence in these types of cases is limited, according to the investigative committee”. According to the President of the Executive Board, this is “partly in the nature of the matter”. “This concerns alleged undesirable behavior in the form of verbal conversation situations and interactions for which there is no documentation.”

In this case, too, “a significant part of the events” lie “in the distant past,” according to Ottow. She points out that the committee of inquiry did check “as many statements as possible against (possibly available) documentation”.

Dismiss ‘As soon as possible’

As a result of the findings, the university board has started a procedure to dismiss the professor “as soon as possible”. “If this is honored by the (subdistrict) court, the employee in question will also no longer be allowed to use the title of professor and will no longer be allowed to supervise PhD candidates.” Her partner, a former assistant professor and researcher, is also no longer welcome at the university. Ottow speaks of “a nasty case” that “shocked” the university board. She is “relieved” that the reports have been made. “As a result, we were able to intervene firmly.” According to her, the fact that there is another case of long-term transgressive behavior at her university has to do with the course set for a safe working environment and with the spirit of the times. “In the past, reporting was more difficult than it is now. Thresholds were higher than they are now (fortunately).” Improving social safety “is and will remain” a spearhead, says Ottow. “The sense of urgency is stronger than ever after this case.”


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