Graduate student at Davis will collect $175,000 and has been guaranteed a $16,000-a-year position as a research assistant

DAVIS — The UC Board of Regents has agreed on behalf of the University of California to pay a student at the Davis campus more than $200,000 to get out of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The settlement leaves UC Davis geology Professor Philip W. Signor as the lone defendant in graduate student Donna Hunt’s federal lawsuit alleging he subjected her to unwanted sexual advances and retaliated academically when she complained to university officials.

She will collect $175,000 in cash from UC and has been guaranteed a $16,000-a-year position as a research assistant at UC Davis until she has her doctorate in geology. Hunt said Wednesday hat she hopes to complete work on the Ph.D. by June, 1996.

The settlement calls for Hunt “to meet and participate in a dialogue with appropriate campus officials and groups to be identified at a later time with respect to a review of those mechanisms available within the University of California to respond to claims of sexual harassment against faculty.

The ‘good’ from a bad situation

Hunt views the latter component as “very significant.” She said the mechanism now in place is ponderous and favors the accused, but sees the forum she has been granted as an indication UC may be receptive to change.

“This opportunity is the good that has resulted from a bad situation,” she said.

Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, the UC Davis vice provost for faculty relations who is handling the Hunt matter at the administration level, has said that the “long and convoluted” procedure accounts for the fact that there has been only one dismissal of a tenured faculty member in the 125-year history of the university.

But the consensus among a number of UC officials interviewed Thursday is that the system works. A lawsuit such as Hunt’s is rare, and most student-faculty sexual harassment complaints are dealt with to the satisfaction of both parties sort of even a formal grievance, the officials said.

Christine Helwick, an attorney for The Regents, signed a stipulation with Hunt’s attorney, Dan Siegel, on April 21, the day after a four-day administrative hearing before a five-member faculty committee, to dismiss The Regents from the lawsuit. The Regents admitted no liability.

Hunt, 32, filed suit after the university’s grievance procedure dragged on for almost three years without a resolution.