Professor fired after students said course was ‘too hard’

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, writes Stephanie Saul for The New York Times.

Students said the high-stakes course – notorious for ending many a dream of medical school – was too hard, blaming Jones for their poor test scores. The professor defended his standards. But just before the start of the fall semester, university deans terminated Jones’s contract.

This one unhappy chemistry class could be a case study of the pressures on higher education as it tries to handle its Gen-Z student body. Should universities ease pressure on students, many of whom are still coping with the pandemic’s effects on their mental health and schooling? How should universities respond to the increasing number of complaints by students against professors? Do students have too much power over contract faculty members, who do not have the protections of tenure? And how hard should organic chemistry be anyway?
Full report on The New York Times site