By Conor Skelding and Kerry J. Byrne
A Fordham University professor was fired after mixing up the names of two black students in class, according to a report.
Hours after what he called an “innocent mistake”, US lecturer Christopher Trogan, 46, sent a rambling, nine-page email to students in his Composition II classes explaining the faux pas — and defending, without being asked, his “entire life” of working on “issues of justice, equality, and inclusion”, the campus newspaper reported, according to the New York Post.
“The offended student assumed my mistake was because I confused that student with another Black student,” Prof Trogan wrote, according to a November 29 article in the Fordham Observer.
“I have done my best to validate and reassure the offended student that I made a simple, human, error. It has nothing to do with race.”
He blamed the mistake on his “confused brain” when the two students arrived to class late on September 24, while he was reading a classmate’s work.
Several students said Prof Trogan’s bizarre over-reaction, rather than making a simple apology, made matters worse for him.
The email was “a little excessive”, one of the two black students, freshman Chantal Sims, told the Observer.
“We were not actually that upset about him mixing up our names. It was more so the random things he would throw into the response,” she said.
In the email, he urged any students upset by the incident to complain to the school. “Depending on your response to the officials above, I may — or may not — be your professor in class next week. It’s all up to you,” he wrote.
Ms Sims told the paper Prof Trogan’s email stressed “everything he has done for minorities”.
He was fired on October 29, the paper reported.
“Trogan was a nice teacher for the five classes that I had him for, but he never attempted to get to know me personally (in a 14 person class),” wrote one newspaper commenter who claimed to be in the Composition II class.
“I don’t think he deserved to get fired, but his response to a small issue was what blew the entire thing up.”
Fordham spokesman Bob Howe told The Post the school “takes personnel matters very seriously” but claimed “media representations regarding this issue do not reflect the facts in Dr Trogan’s case.” He refused to elaborate.
Prof Trogan was a popular instructor, according to dozens of reviews on Rate My Professor.
“He doesn’t quite let on how much he knows and what he’s accomplished, but he is quite brilliant but humble and not stuck up,” a former student wrote.
Neither Prof Trogan, his union, nor Ms Sims, returned messages. The second student, who has remained anonymous, declined to comment to The Post through an intermediary.
Source: New York Post
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