Cornell's Harassment of the Vengalattore Labs

Vengalattore vs Cornell University, Gretchen Ritter

Starting 2009, Prof. Mukund Vengalattore has established Cornell University's first and only AMO research group.

In April 2014, Prof. Vengalattore came up for a promotion ("tenure") to the position of an Associate Professor.

The Physics Department voted in favor of and recommended Prof. Vengalattore's tenure in September 2014.

The Dean of Arts and Sciences, Gretchen Ritter, against the recommendation, denied Prof. Vengalattore tenure in October 2014.

Following University policy, the Physics Department and Prof. Vengalattore unsuccessfully appealed Gretchen Ritter to reverse her decision in December 2014.

Gretchen Ritter's decision was then appealed "at the University level", following which an independent University Committee deliberated over the case for over nine months and in December 2015, upheld the appeal, concluding with instructions for Gretchen Ritter to rectify shortcomings in the tenure process. Gretchen Ritter ignored the instructions of the Committee, and formed a separate ad hoc Committee. This ad hoc Committee also recommended positively for Prof. Vengalattore's tenure in February 2016. Yet again ignoring this recommendation, Gretchen Ritter denied Prof. Vengalattore tenure.

Following Gretchen Ritter's actions, the case returned to the University Committee for further deliberation, and in March 2016, it still found serious deficiencies in the tenure process. As per University policy, the University Committee instructed Cornell to form an independent panel of scholars to evaluate Prof. Vengalattore's academic qualifications. Cornell explicitly lied to Prof. Vengalattore about the University Committee's decision, further ignored their instructions, and denied Prof. Vengalattore tenure. (See PDF1, PDF2, PDF3.)

When Cornell's deceit was called out, and following complaints lodged against administrators by Prof. Vengalattore's students, in May 2016, Cornell gave Prof. Vengalattore and his research group a 5-week ultimatum after which access to their labs and ongoing federal research would be barred. Prof. Vengalattore filed a lawsuit against Cornell University and Gretchen Ritter in June 2016, immediately following which an interim restraining order was issued against Gretchen Ritter and Cornell University. (TRO)

In November 2016, a New York State Supreme Court decided in favor of Prof. Vengalattore, calling out Cornell for its "arbitrary and capricious" actions and violations of Prof. Vengalattore's due process rights. (Court Order)

These pages collate the publicly available documents re the matter, accessible through the Schuyler County Clerk's Office, New York.

Over the intervening period since 2014, Cornell has acted in bad-faith and against Prof. Vengalattore and his research group. Multiple complaints have been lodged against several Department and University Administrators re harassment, discrimination and retaliation of Prof. Vengalattore and his group. These pages also include the publicly available documents re the matter.


Timeline of events