After a tape released yesterday showed Columbia Professor Emlyn Hughes beginning the Frontiers of Science three-lecture physics unit by stripping down, curling up in a fetal position and letting ninjas harass him while a projection of the Twin Towers falling and the Holocaust played on the television. Maybe he was trying to pull a Booth Jonathan … we have no idea. But thanks to a trusted source at Columbia, we now know a little bit more about the events of the lecture, student and faculty reactions, and the status of Professor Hughes.
- BWOG, one of the campus blogs, was able to finagle a response from the administration:
Universities are committed to maintaining a climate of academic freedom, in which the faculty members are given the widest possible latitude in their teaching and scholarship. However, the freedoms traditionally accorded the faculty carry corresponding responsibilities. Columbia’s Faculty Handbook states that “In conducting their classes, faculty should promote an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, respect, and civility [and] should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses.” While one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics.
- Apparently we forgot to mention that Lil’ Wayne was playing over the beginning of the strip tease.
- Professor Hughes is probably tenured, which would put the administration in a tougher position if it decided to terminate him. According to our source: “He’s chair of Frontiers of Science and was deputy chair of the Physics Department in 2010. He must be tenured.
- Also according to our source, the Frontiers of Science class is “a little like a series of TED Talks. Each week, a world-renowned prof lectures freshmen. That lecture is done in a huge auditorium. A few days later, groups of 20 students discuss the lecture with grad students/untenured profs.” And let’s face it … we all know how weird TED Talks can be.
- “Frontiers has always been a weird class,” says our source. “A few years ago, a student made this video about it”:
Hopefully that video wasn’t for credit …
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