The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 46.0°F | Overcast

One Complaint Filed Against Tewhey, Provost Says

By Josh Hartmann
Photography Editor

Only one complaint was filed against former Associate Dean James R. Tewhey during his tenure here and that was without merit, Provost Mark S. Wrighton said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the former associate dean for student affairs continued to defend his six years leading the Residence and Campus Activities section. "At no time have I ever received either a verbal or written reprimand for anything I have done," Tewhey said. "It is inevitable that there are going to be complaints. You make a lot of decisions about very controversial issues."

Tewhey, who resigned April 20, said he had considered resigning since February, shortly before filing his own personnel complaint, claiming that a colleague had created a hostile working environment. In the weeks before his resignation, Tewhey and Katherine M. Nolan, the financial aid officer with whom he had an 18-month affair, obtained restraining orders against each other, which prevented contact between the two.

In their requests for temporary restraining orders, both Tewhey and Nolan alleged the other had engaged in harassment. Tewhey's request for an extension was turned down by a Cambridge District Court judge the morning of his resignation, while a Newton District Court judge approved a six-month extension to her restraining order against Tewhey.

"He felt the time had come to resign," Wrighton said. "I agreed with his assessment and accepted his resignation without any prejudgment on the harassment allegations involved in the court order."

Reports in last week's editions of The Tech attributed a statement that there were several complaints against Tewhey to an anonymous source. The Thistle reported there were as many as eight complaints.

"A male colleague propositioned a male worker," Tewhey said. "That individual was spoken to about that issue, as well as some other work-related issue." Tewhey said this was the basis of the formal complaint, which reached the provost's office. He would not name the complainant.

Tewhey said he believes a full investigation will clear his name. "My belief is that a fair and independent evaluation of what has gone on would show that I am the one who has been harassed and not the other way around," he said.

Wrighton released information about Tewhey's complaint only after receiving the complainant's explicit permission, Wrighton said. An MIT spokesman refused further comment on the matter, citing the Institute's privacy regulations.

Tewhey remained close-lipped about future plans, saying he fears continued harassment. "I had approached [Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C.] Smith back in February about leaving, because I felt the whole situation had not been handled well. It was increasingly difficult to do my work. I have several options available. I will be doing something in September. Given how ugly this has gotten, I don't have any intention of making generally public what I'm going to be doing."

Smith said yesterday that a search committee to find a successor was being formed and would include undergraduate and graduate students.