After months of closed hearings and inordinate secrecy, the University Tribunal, led by Nobel Prize-winning professor Sidney Altman, recommended to Yale President Richard Levin that Antonio Lasaga’s tenure be revoked. After more inexplicable delays, Levin responded appropriately by firing the former Saybrook master, who has pleaded guilty to two federal child pornography charges.
But it remains unclear why the University needed so much time — more than nine agonizing months — after Lasaga’s guilty pleas to act on the matter. Even more confounding is Levin’s month-long delay in finalizing the tribunal’s January recommendation because of complications he refuses to specify. So much for transparency. Information about Yale’s highest disciplinary body is for members only. The hazy explanations behind the tribunal’s delay in revoking Lasaga’s tenure highlight the fundamental weakness of such a secretive and sluggish process, which is run by anonymous members insulated from the pressures of both deadline and public scrutiny.
The Corporation, meanwhile, should act speedily to uphold Lasaga’s dismissal. Though the details of the geology professor’s appeal are unclear, presumptions of innocence hardly apply in a case that involves two guilty pleas to charges of child pornography. The Corporation need not address the details of the more serious accusations against Lasaga of sexual assault to back the tribunal’s recommendation. They need only rubber- stamp the obvious.
Ultimately, the public may never know why the tribunal took so long to restore the reputation of its faculty and the University itself by booting Lasaga. And that may be the greatest offense of all.