Posted for: Willie Wonka
An NYU chemistry professor says he was fired after students complained his class was too hard.
Maitland Jones Jr. says that, despite decades of experience, the $80K-a-year school catered to students who were failing his organic chemistry class and canned him, according an interview in the New York Times.
Eighty-two of Jones’ 350 students signed a petition against him last spring, saying Jones had made his class too difficult and was at fault for their failing grades.
“Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,” Jones, who authored the 1,300-page textbook “Organic Chemistry,” wrote in a grievance to NYU obtained by the Times.
“In the last two years, they fell off a cliff,” the 84-year-old professor said of the college kids’ pandemic performance. “We now see single digit scores and even zeros.”
“They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house,” Jones added, defending himself and saying the kids simply were not studying hard enough. “They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.”
In their petition, students said that “a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and well-being a priority.”
The students claimed Jones’ class “reflects poorly on the chemistry department as well as the institution as a whole” and said the prof addressed kids in a “condescending and demanding” tone.
The students notably did not call for his firing, and were surprised he was terminated, according to the Times. Jones appeared to be teaching at NYU on a contract after retiring from Princeton, where he was a professor.
One of Jones’ teaching assistants, Zacharia Benslimane, defended his former boss: “I think this petition was written more out of unhappiness with exam scores than an actual feeling of being treated unfairly.”
An NYU spokesperson said multiple students had complained about Jones’ “dismissiveness, unresponsiveness, condescension and opacity about grading.”
His course evaluation was also “by far the worst, not only among members of the chemistry department but among all the university’s undergraduate science courses.”
Jones told the Times his firing sets a scary precedent.
“I don’t want my job back … I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he said.