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Dr. Chetan Kumar
Dr. Chetan Kumar has been reassigned but remains at the university. Courtesy photo/CSUSM
Cities News Region San Marcos

CSUSM professor reassigned following sexual misconduct allegations

SAN MARCOS — A Cal State University San Marcos professor who was investigated by the university over claims of sexual harassment and misconduct has been reassigned but will remain at the university.

In May, Voice of San Diego first reported that CSUSM had investigated accusations that Dr. Chetan Kumar had sexually harassed his former teacher’s aide and acted unprofessionally with three other students during the 2019 fall semester.

According to the report, Kumar complimented their looks, texted and emailed them to ask them out to coffee, dinner or beach walks, hugged them, pressured two of them into closed-door meetings in his office and asked two of them about their sex lives.

“Four investigations concluded in June 2020 finding that Dr. Kumar engaged in unprofessional conduct in violation of Education Code Section 89535. One claim of sexual harassment was also substantiated,” said Margaret Chantung, CSUSM chief communications officer, via email.

“CSUSM moved to terminate Dr. Kumar based on findings of unprofessional conduct and sexual harassment,” Chantung said.

However, Kumar managed to retain his position after his union, the California Faculty Association, filed an appeal, leading the school to halt plans to fire Kumar.

“Termination requires due process, and the faculty member exercised his right to further appeal the decision to arbitration per the collective bargaining agreement with the California Faculty Association,” Chantung said. “The California Faculty Association (CFA) represented Dr. Kumar in these investigations and assisted in his appeal of the findings to the Office of the Chancellor, which denied his initial appeal.”

Kumar, according to the school’s website, is an associate professor of information systems in CSUSM’s College of Business Administration. He had been set to teach two classes at the university this fall, but after facing some backlash, including an online petition, CSUSM reassigned Kumar to a non-teaching role.

“Prior to the hearing on arbitration, CSUSM and Dr. Kumar agreed to a 3-month unpaid suspension through the end of the spring 2021 semester. For the fall, he will be on an administrative assignment, which does not involve interacting with students. Furthermore, he is prohibited from ever contacting or attempting to contact the students involved in the investigations,” Chantung said.

It is unclear what Kumar’s new role in the university will be, but Chantung said that the university believes this is the best path forward.

“For this case, based on recent arbitration opinions, there was deep concern that the arbitrator would overturn the termination at appeal. In this likely scenario, the faculty member would not have received any disciplinary action, nor would there have been official record of his misconduct,” Chantung said.

Kumar could not be reached for comment.

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