“Unless you appreciate these transformations at the molecular level,” he said, “I don’t think you can be a good physician, and I don’t want you treating patients.”
In August, Dr. Jones received a short note from Gregory Gabadadze, dean for science, terminating his contract. Dr. Jones’s performance, he wrote, “did not rise to the standards we require from our teaching faculty.”
Dr. Gabadadze declined to be interviewed. But Mr. Beckman defended the decision, saying that Dr. Jones had been the target of multiple student complaints about his “dismissiveness, unresponsiveness, condescension and opacity about grading.”
Dr. Jones’s course evaluations, he added, “were by far the worst, not only among members of the chemistry department, but among all the university’s undergraduate science courses.”
Professors in the chemistry department have pushed back. In a letter to Dr. Gabadadze and other deans, they wrote that they worried about setting “a precedent, completely lacking in due process, that could undermine faculty freedoms and correspondingly enfeeble proven pedagogic practices.”
Nathaniel J. Traaseth, one of about 20 chemistry professors, mostly tenured, who signed the letter, said the university’s actions may deter rigorous instruction, especially given the growing tendency of students to file petitions.
“Now the faculty who are not tenured are looking at this case and thinking, ‘Wow, what if this happens to me and they don’t renew my contract?’” he said.