Maitland Jones Jr. at Princeton
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An award-winning New York University organic chemistry teacher was fired after 82 students signed a petition to get rid of him for making his course ‘too hard.’
Dr. Maitland Jones Jr., 84, used to teach at Princeton until he semi-retired in 2007.
Dr. Jones then took a job teaching organic chemistry at NYU on an annual contract.
The students claimed in the petition that his course was too hard and blamed Dr. Jones for their failing grades.
“We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class,” the petition said, according to The New York Times.
“We urge you to realize that a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and well-being a priority and reflects poorly on the chemistry department as well as the institution as a whole,” the students said.
The whiney students said Dr. Jones didn’t offer extra credit, didn’t allow for Zoom classes for students sick with Covid and taught with a ‘condescending and demanding’ tone.
Dr. Jones said he noticed his students were struggling to adapt to in-person learning post-Covid pandemic.
“They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house,” Dr. Jones said in an interview. “They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.”
“We now see single digit scores and even zeros,” Dr. Jones said.
Dr. Jones tried to further help his students by taping 52 lectures which he paid $5,000 of his own money to publish and disperse.
But Jones was fired anyway.
The New York Times reported:
In the field of organic chemistry, Maitland Jones Jr. has a storied reputation. He taught the subject for decades, first at Princeton and then at New York University, and wrote an influential textbook. He received awards for his teaching, as well as recognition as one of NYU’s coolest professors.
But last spring, as the campus emerged from pandemic restrictions, 82 of his 350 students signed a petition against him.
Students said the high-stakes course — notorious for ending many a dream of medical school — was too hard, blaming Dr. Jones for their poor test scores.
The professor defended his standards. But just before the start of the fall semester, university deans terminated Dr. Jones’s contract.
The officials also tried to placate the students by offering to review their grades and allowing them to withdraw from the class retroactively. The chemistry department’s chairman, Mark E. Tuckerman, said the unusual offer to withdraw was a “one-time exception granted to students by the dean of the college.”