Professor Accused of Using Foreign Grad Students as ‘Slave Labor’ Resigns

A Missouri professor accused of using foreign graduate students as “slave labor” resigned Wednesday, a day prior to the university giving the final verdict on whether he could remain at the school.

Ashim Mitra’s resignation comes two months after allegations claimed the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Pharmacy chairman and professor forced his former graduate students from India to do tasks like serving food at his social gatherings, caring for his dog and tending to his lawn.

The students believed they would lose their visas or be kicked out of the school if they did not obey Mitra, who is also from India, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

The alleged misconduct occurred over Mitra’s 24 years at the school, though he has previously denied the accusations, according to The Star.

Former student Kamesh Kuchimanchi, who graduated in 2001, described the work as “slave labor.”

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Kuchimanchi and several other students allegedly were asked to dispose of rotting water from Mitra’s flooded basement, The Star reported.

Mitra’s colleagues said they either saw the students performing the tasks or heard students’ complaints, according to The Star.

The colleagues reportedly told Mitra his actions were inappropriate, with one even filing a report.

UMKC administrators, however, allegedly overlooked complaints because Mitra helped bring millions of dollars to the school through his research, The Star reported.

Mitra’s research interests while at UMKC were “delivery and targeting of antiviral agents and development of noninvasive delivery systems for peptide and protein drugs,” the university website says.

The investigation into Mitra started in May 2018. He was placed on suspension in November 2018 following the allegations, the university said in a statement obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We investigate reports of misconduct and, when a report is substantiated, the violator is subject to discipline,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said in the statement.

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“Terms of Mitra’s resignation agreement include that he relinquish his tenure immediately and that he complete all transitions, including lab closure, no later than March 31,” UMKC’s statement said. “He also must continue to remain off campus, unless authorized, and have no contact with students.”

Mitra did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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