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Harvard Business School Professor Faces Possible Tenure Revocation

Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino faces the prospect of tenure revocation following fraud allegations

Tue Aug 29 2023

Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino has been notified that the university has begun the process of formally reviewing and potentially revoking her tenure after allegations of data fraud.

According to an attorney for Francesca Gino, the professor was notified on July 28th by Harvard’s Office of the President that the school had begun the tenure revocation process.

The tenure review will see two separate bodies review the complaint before the Harvard Corporation—the university’s governing body—makes a final decision.

First, a Screening Committee must make an initial assessment to a Hearing Committee before a second committee, comprised of tenured professors, investigates and recommends further action to the Corporation. 

Under Harvard’s rules, the Corporation can only revoke Gino’s tenure if they find her guilty of “grave misconduct or neglect of duty".

It would be a historic move as there have been no instances of Harvard revoking a professor’s tenure since the American Association of University Professors formalized rules about tenure in the 1940s.

Gino was accused of data fraud by the data investigation blog Data Colada in June, pertaining to four research papers she co-authored. 

The three professors behind Data Colada—Uri Simonsohn of ESADE, Leif Nelson of UC Berkeley, and Joseph Simmons of Wharton—wrote that they first contacted Harvard Business School in fall 2021 with concerns of academic misconduct by Gino.

“We wrote a report about four studies for which we had accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud. We believe that many more Gino-authored papers contain fake data,” the three wrote in a blog post. 

After an investigation committee at Harvard Business School determined she had committed research misconduct, business school Dean Srikant M. Data placed Gino on unpaid administrative leave, barring her from campus, and revoking her professorship.

The tenure process is complicated by the lawsuit Gino brought against Harvard, Dean Data, and the three professors behind Data Colada, earlier this month. 

Francesca Gino's lawsuit alleges that the accused conspired to damage her reputation with false allegations, seeking an apology and at least $25 million in damages. 

She posted a statement to LinkedIn on the same day she filed the lawsuit saying she never “falsified data or engaged in research misconduct of any kind".

The suit also cites gender discrimination, alleging that “Harvard’s gender bias against women was a motivating factor in HBS’s decision to subject Plaintiff to an onerous investigation and to impose upon her severe penalties.”