Facing backlash for potential Sabatini appointment, NYU administrators defend hiring process — report
NYU Grossman School of Medicine is reportedly remaining steadfast in its intent to hire former MIT professor David Sabatini despite intense backlash.
Administrators defended their hiring process and dismissed the controversy as an incomplete investigation colored by social media-driven rhetoric, per a recording of a Zoom town hall obtained by VICE News and other outlets. The town hall had been conducted after a couple hundred students and faculty walked out Wednesday afternoon in an hour-long protest against the potential hire.
During the meeting, administrators reportedly met virtually with students and faculty, ostensibly to allow space for an airing of grievances. Reports earlier last week from Science indicated NYU had shown an interest in hiring Sabatini after he resigned from MIT in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
But NYU officials reportedly characterized at least some of the allegations against Sabatini as untrue, recalling previous instances of controversial hires.
“A few people have asked, why hire someone who has this type of controversy instead of hiring an equally talented scientist that doesn’t have these accusations,” one administrator reportedly said during the meeting, according to VICE. “The only thing I can say is that we hired a fair number of people here that had controversy surrounding them, the only thing that changed is social media. That’s really the only thing.”
One NYU official in particular, general counsel Annette Johnson, also reportedly attempted to place the blame for the controversy on the Sabatini accuser’s attorney and the Boston Globe. The attorney in question has been “a most zealous advocate for women’s causes,” Johnson reportedly said, and is married to a Globe reporter.
“So there’s this is to us explains why there is the so much in social media and why the Boston Globe in particular has adopted the narrative of sexual predators that we find inaccurate,” Johnson said, per VICE.
Endpoints News has reached out to NYU’s medical school for comment and will update accordingly.
Sabatini resigned from MIT last month after an external probe had found he violated harassment policies at MIT’s Whitehead Institute, which he had previously resigned from last August. Sabatini had tenure at MIT and three senior university officials had recommended revoking that tenure shortly before Sabatini’s resignation.
Following the August 2021 allegations, Sabatini sued his accuser for defamation, spurring a countersuit against him later that year.
When reports first emerged that NYU was interested in hiring Sabatini last week, students and faculty staged a walkout across the street from the university’s medical school. Protesters held signs and chanted for roughly an hour on First Avenue in New York City. Some graduate students and postdocs from other nearby universities like Columbia also attended.