Yale strips cardiologist of endowed chair position after public outcry

The Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., stripped a cardiologist of his endowed chair position Sept. 21, less than two months after he was awarded the honor, according to the Yale Daily News.

Here are five things to know:

1. Michael Simons, MD, announced he was awarded the Waldemar von Zedtwitz professor of cardiology endowed chair position in a since-deleted Aug. 1 tweet of a Yale news release, which has also since been taken down by the university.

2. The university said in an email to Yale medical school faculty and students Sept. 21 that it removed Dr. Simons from the position after listening to the community, which voiced its opposition to the move in recent weeks through a letter to administration signed by more than 1,000 individuals.

3. Opponents said Dr. Simons was unfit to hold such an honor after a university committee found him guilty of sexually harassing a junior colleague in 2013. As a result of the committee's ruling at the time, Dr. Simons stepped down from his position as chief of cardiology at the medical school and was suspended from holding a leadership position at the institution for five years — a sanction that was later reduced to 18 months.

4. Despite the investigation, Dr. Simons continued to hold the endowed Robert W. Berliner chair of cardiology position until August, when members of the Berliner family expressed their concern over the situation.

5. The university stood by its decision to grant Dr. Simons the Waldemar von Zedtwitz chair position until Sept. 21, arguing the new position represented a transfer of honors, not the conferment of a new one.

"When Dr. Michael Simons was transferred from the Berliner Chair to the Von Zedtwitz Chair, it was not my or the university's intention to confer a new honor on Dr. Simons. However, it has become clear that members of our community perceive the transfer of chairs as bestowing a new honor, and that this action is viewed as a statement about our values. … It is out of concern for the community's well-being that I share with you that, effective today, I have removed Dr. Simons from the Von Zedtwitz Chair," medical school dean Robert J. Alpern, MD, said in the email to students and staff.

To access the full report, click here.

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