UMN paid professor disciplined for sexual harassment over $190,000 after resignation

The amount paid covered the professor’s severance pay, insurance premiums and attorney fees.

Sarah Mai

Sarah Mai

Tiffany Bui

After James Ron resigned from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he was disciplined for sexual harassment, the University of Minnesota paid the former professor over $190,000.

The details of the payment were released in a settlement agreement between the University and Ron, as first reported on by the Pioneer Press. The amount covers Ron’s severance pay, insurance premiums and attorney fees. The agreement also outlined how the Humphrey School could communicate news of Ron’s resignation to students and faculty.

Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg placed Ron and another professor, Jason Cao, on unpaid leave in 2019 after a University investigation found they had violated policies against sexual misconduct.

A former graduate student of Ron’s described how he made inappropriate comments to her, such as talking about how difficult it was for him to have sex with a woman who was not his wife. Then, Ron told the student that if she was single, he would have asked her out, spurring her to file a formal complaint with the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA).

Citing the stress of the experience, the student left the Humphrey School without completing her master’s degree in human rights.

After news of the sexual harassment allegations, three more complaints were filed against Ron. All cases have since been closed, finding that Ron was not “responsible” for any University policy violations, per the settlement agreement.

“Nonetheless, the controversy and concerns arising from the matter have made it difficult for [Ron] to continue to effectively perform [his] University duties, and for the Humphrey School to move forward in pursuing its mission,” the settlement reads. “The parties agree that it is in their best interests for [Ron] to leave the University.”

Ron resigned from the Humphrey School in July 2020, and Bloomberg notified students through a schoolwide email — a specific condition in the agreement, which also stated that the school could not post any statements about Ron’s departure on the University website.

In the email, Bloomberg called Ron an “accomplished scholar“ who contributed “substantially” to the school’s global policy classes and research agenda, a comment which drew criticism from some student activists who demanded the Humprhey administration be more proactive in addressing students’ sexual misconduct allegations.

Ron’s salary was $166,884 in 2019, according to University payroll data.