In 1995, he was president of AAAS, which publishes Science . In 2011, Ayala gave UC Irvine $10 million, which was dispensed in $2 million annual allotments over the following 5 years. His firing has drawn praise from some scientists and criticism from others on the UC Irvine campus and in Ayala’s native Spain. Critics questioned whether he received due process, and urged the university to detail the charges against him. Until now, those specific charges have not been publicized.
Ayala’s behavior extends back to 2004 and he was cautioned about it well before the current investigation began in , according to the report. She told investigators that she was shocked and discomfited by Ayala’s focus and comments on her appearance.
However, Ayala’s behavior continued
In 2015, Ayala made the “sit in my lap” comment to complainant Jessica Pratt, an assistant teaching professor, as she prepared to present at a crowded faculty meeting. Ayala admitted the comment to investigators, calling it a one-time lapse showing “a horrendous lack of judgment.” (A graduate student on whose dissertation committee Ayala served and who was interviewed as a witness described a separate occasion on which she said that Ayala invited her, too, to sit in his lap during a meeting.)
Pratt complained to the then–EEB department chair, prompting Ayala to visit Pratt in her office, according to the report. Ayala told investigators that he “apologized profusely” to Pratt, telling her he intended the comment to be playful, like he was addressing a niece or granddaughter. But when Pratt told Ayala that then–department chair and others had overheard the comment, a fact corroborated by investigators, Ayala called her a liar. She lodged an informal complaint with UC Irvine’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Pratt told investigators that Ayala’s continued emphasis on her appearance had “started to make her question whether he respected her work. … She even began to question her own merit as a scientist.”
One witness recalled wearing a conservative, button-down shirt while being interviewed for a tenure-track job by Ayala in 2004
As a result of Pratt’s complaint, Associate Chancellor Kirsten Quanbeck warned Ayala to watch his language with women and told him that his conduct was viewed as unwelcome and was out of line with university policy. The chair of the EEB department gave him a similar warning, according to the report.
The report makes clear that Ayala’s habit of kissing women on both cheeks on greeting and his regular compliments on their appearance were unwelcome to some female students and staff who, because of his power, felt unable to complain. His expressions of pleasure at encounters with female graduate students in the mail room or elevator were so frequent that students nicknamed them “the mail room comment” or the “elevator comment.”
Franciso Ayala’s $10 million, 2011 gift helped fund the University of California, Irvine’s School of Biological Sciences, which is being stripped of his name.
One complainant, Benedicte Shipley, an assistant dean in UC Irvine’s School of Biological Sciences, felt she had no choice but to put up with his attention because of his power as a major donor, she told investigators.
“I just learned that women don’t like to FlirtBuddies sign up be told they’re beautiful, but I know you don’t mind,” Shipley recalled Ayala saying in 2016, rubbing her sides while kissing her cheeks-a behavior that occurred regularly, she said. A male professor noted the encounter and asked Shipley afterward whether she was all right, according to the report.
Shipley told investigators she was relieved when Ayala’s attention shifted to Treseder, whom she said Ayala was “glued” to at a department social event not long after. Distressed, Treseder asked a male colleague, who corroborated her claim, to attend events with her.