A week after John Darnell resigned as chair of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department, details on his violations of University policy and suspension from the Yale faculty have begun to emerge.
The Egyptology professor, who agreed to a one-year suspension from the University after maintaining an intimate relationship with a former student and fellow professor whom multiple sources have identified as associate professor Colleen Manassa ’01 GRD ’05, will not receive his salary this year and may have had other employee benefits revoked, University spokesman Tom Conroy said. NELC professor Eckart Frahm, who will serve as acting chair of NELC until a permanent replacement is appointed, said Darnell will also not serve as director of the Yale Egyptological Institute in Egypt during his suspension.
Darnell has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Manassa declined to comment on allegations concerning her relationship with Darnell, and declined to comment on whether she is facing disciplinary action in connection with Darnell’s suspension.
Two sources with close ties to the NELC Department said Manassa and Darnell met when Manassa took a class taught by Darnell as a freshman in 1998 — the year Darnell joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor. Manassa told the News she completed the requisite 36 course credits to finish her undergraduate degree in three years.
Manassa went on to enroll as a graduate student in the department in 2001, and was appointed an assistant professor in 2006. Three sources close to the department confirmed that John Darnell was head of the search committee that appointed Manassa to an assistant professorship in the department.
Darnell and his wife — Deborah Darnell, an administrator at the Yale Egyptological Institute — have collaborated on several scholarly works, including journal articles published by the Oriental Institute in 1993 and the Journal of Near Eastern Studies in 1997. According to New Haven court records, the Darnells filed for divorce in 2012. Deborah Darnell told the News that they have been in contact since her husband announced his resignation and suspension in a Jan. 8 department-wide email.
Deborah Darnell said she will continue to work with the Institute, focusing on a project she and her husband started in the early 1990s called the Theban Desert Road Survey. The project studies the use of desert routes in relation to periods of political and military turmoil in the Nile Valley and has recovered at least half a ton of priceless ancient artifacts, including ceramics, which currently reside in a storage magazine in Luxor, Egypt. Darnell declined to comment on her future academic work with her husband.
The website for the Archaeological Institute of America lists Manassa as Egyptologist and epigrapher for the Theban Desert Road Survey.
As NELC chair, Darnell managed and allocated funds from the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Endowment for Egyptology at Yale, which was donated by Yale Egyptology professor emeritus William Simpson. The endowment is partly used to fund the Theban Road Survey, and Simpson said he does not anticipate any change in his support of the endowment in the wake of Darnell’s resignation and suspension.
The Simpson funds are used exclusively to subsidize projects in Egyptology and not other subfields within the NELC Department, which include Arabic studies and Assyriology.