Darnell resigns as dept chair following relationship with student

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Chair John Darnell resigned as chair and agreed to a one-year suspension from the Yale faculty after engaging in several violations of University policy, including maintaining an intimate relationship with a student under his direct supervision, Darnell said in an email sent to the department Tuesday afternoon.

Darnell’s other violations consisted of participating in the review of a faculty member with whom he had an intimate relationship and using his leadership role in Egyptology to cover up his illicit behavior, he wrote in his Tuesday email. Such actions are prohibited by the Yale University Faculty Handbook, which states that professors must avoid sexual relationships with students over whom they have “direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities.”

“[I] have violated Yale policies and the trust placed in me as a Yale faculty member,” Darnell wrote. “I have failed the University, my colleagues, and my students, and I am deeply sorry.”

University spokesman Tom Conroy declined to comment beyond Darnell’s notification to his department. Darnell could not be reached for further comment Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

In a Tuesday follow-up email to the department, University President Richard Levin said Director of Graduate Studies Eckart Frahm would serve as acting chair for the spring semester while Yale College Dean Mary Miller interviews members of the department to suggest a replacement for the next full term. Levin added that Frahm will assign new faculty advisers to each of the graduate students previously under Darnell’s supervision. Levin apologized to the department for conveying “such unsettling news.”

“I trust that faculty, staff, and students alike will pull together to ensure that the department’s educational and research programs move forward,” Levin said.

Darnell joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor in 1998 and became professor of Egyptology in 2005. He has taught courses on “Egypt and Northeast Africa” and “Egyptian Coffin Texts,” and has also served as director of the Yale Egyptological Institute in Egypt.

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