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Tilghman issues statement regarding Calvo

April 25, 2011, 8:43 a.m.

Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman has issued the following statement to members of the University community regarding the tragic death of Senior Lecturer Antonio Calvo.
To members of the Princeton University community,
The tragic death of Senior Lecturer Antonio Calvo last week has left many members of the community with a deep sense of loss. Those of you who knew Professor Calvo as a valued and beloved colleague, teacher and friend are seeking answers to the painful question of what could have driven him to take his life. This is natural, but in my experience it is never possible to fully understand all the circumstances that lead someone to take such an irreversible decision.

The specific events leading up to Professor Calvo's abrupt leave-taking from the University came out of a review whose contents cannot be disclosed without an unprecedented breach of confidentiality. That policy is in place to protect the privacy of the individual faculty or staff member, and his or her family. An unfortunate consequence of this policy is that in the absence of the facts, untrue and misleading rumors have been swirling on campus and in the blogosphere. Most problematically, innocent individuals on campus have been identified and fingers pointed in a manner that is deeply unfair, hurtful and unworthy of this university community.
Although I cannot divulge the details surrounding this case, it might be helpful to describe the policies and procedures that are used to review the appointments of senior lecturers. These reviews are routinely conducted at three- or five-year intervals, depending upon the length of service of the individual. Views regarding the quality of teaching and scholarly work are solicited on a confidential basis from those on campus, and, when appropriate, peers at other institutions. If any allegations of improper conduct arise in the course of the review, they must be thoroughly investigated, and the findings reported to the Faculty Advisory Committee on Appointments and Advancements (often referred to on campus as "the Committee of Three"). The committee consists of the University's president, provost, dean of the faculty, dean of the college, dean of the graduate school and six faculty members who are elected by the faculty. In rare cases the committee recommends immediate suspension. Before a suspension or termination becomes final, the faculty member is given the opportunity to respond to the findings of the investigation and to appeal any decision to the Committee on Conference and Faculty Appeal, an elected faculty committee, which reports directly to the Board of Trustees.
These procedures were followed in this case. Some have written to me asking for full disclosure of all the details in this case. I must stand on the principle of confidentiality and of respect for Antonio Calvo's privacy and that of his grieving family.
I extend my heartfelt sympathy to all members of our community who are mourning the loss of a great friend and colleague. The outpouring of concern and sadness reflects the positive way in which Professor Calvo touched so many in this community very deeply.
Shirley M. Tilghman