Fired - a letter to Dr. Daniel Povey

Andrew S. Douglas · Vice Dean for Faculty · August 8th, 2019

Daniel Povey

Dear Dr. Povey:

You were placed on administrative leave on May 10th, 2019, following reports by yourself and others about your conduct on the evening of May 7th-8th, 2019. You were instructed that, while on administrative leave, you were not to be present on campus, not to engage with students or postdocs by any means, and could engage with faculty colleagues only in writing, by email, by phone, or online, but not in person.

The University’s Office of Institutional Equity(OIE) has been conducting an investigation into the events of May 7th-8th, 2019, which included allegations that you engaged in violent and aggressive behavior when attempting forcibly to enter Garland Hall on May 8th, and complaints that your conduct was motivated by racially discriminatory animus and created a hostile environment. The investigation also takes into account your own written and oral statements about the events of May 8th, 2019, including that you “were met with more violence than we anticipated.” Despite your extensive written and oral statements in this matter, you have also refused to cooperate in certain respects by refusing to answer certain material questions, including: whether you paid the approximately six non-affiliates you led to Garland Hall to attempt to forcibly enter the building, how long you had known each of the non-affiliates, their names, and how you became acquainted with them.

In sum, your own oral and written statements to the OIE investigator, the Dean’s Office, and others clearly establish the following:

On May 8th, 2019, carrying bolt cutters and leading a group of non-affiliates to campus, you forcibly entered Garland Hall in the middle of the night. By your own admissions, your actions were premeditated and you expected that your actions could result in a violent confrontation with students and others in or around Garland Hall. In fact, you believed the group of non-affiliates you brought with you could become violent. As a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, you created a dangeous situation that could have ended in serious harm to our students, yourself, and others in the community.

Prior to May 8th, 2019, JHU administrators had clearly and repeatedly instructed you that Garland Hall was closed and that you were not permitted to enter, despite your requests for permission to access the computer servers in the building. You acted in deliberate defiance of the administration’s directives. You have flagrantly and unapologetically violated JHU directives and your actions have endangered the University community. Further, you stated you feel no remorse or regret for your actions.

These actions by a member of our faculty are entirely unacceptable. The safety, security, and protection of our students and others are of paramount importance to the University. While the OIE will continue its investigation until it reaches its conclusion, your own account of events based on your oral and written statements provides more than sufficient grounds for immediate termination, and we are hereby terminating your appointment with the University. You will not be eligible for employment with the University in the future.

Because you currently serve as the primary research advisor for approximately twenty graduates students, of whom five are expecting to complete their doctoral degree requirements either this summer or in the Fall and who have asked for and require your assitance to complete their PhD degrees, and in order to transition your other student advisees to new advisors, we are seeking to minimize the negative impact of your termination on these students.

Therefore, solely to minimize the negative impact on these students, your termination from the University will be effective on August 31th, 2019. Each student you currently advise will be given the option to work immediately with a new advisor, and no student will be required to interact with you if they do not desire to do so. We will let you know separately the names of your advisees who choose to work with you through your termination date. As we seeek to assist current students in completing their degrees of transitioning to a new advisor, you will be permitted to communicate with such students only by email, Skype/Zoom, or telephone and only under the supervision of another member of JHU faculty or staff(not including postdoctoral fellows). You are relieved from all other duties, and as before, are prohibited from entering campus or University property, prohibited from contact by any means with any other students or postdoctoral fellows, and you may engage with faculty colleagues only with prior approval of the Dean’s Office. The ban from campus and University property will continue following your termination’s effective date.


Andrew S. Douglas

Vice Dean for Faculty

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