AFA Releases Statement on NYU Prof. Maitland Jones
NYU refused to rehire Jones over his professional judgement in grading
PRINCETON, NJ – The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) today released a statement on the non-renewal of employment for Prof. Maitland Jones of New York University. In August, NYU refused to rehire Professor Jones after 82 students signed a petition complaining about the rigorous grading practices in his spring 2022 organic chemistry class. Numerous professors from around the world have protested Jones’ non-renewal, arguing that the decision and the way it was made undermine faculty freedom while diminishing respect for academic standards.
“We believe strongly that fundamental principles of academic freedom require assessment of individual student performance to be made by the teaching staff appointed to teach each course,” said the AFA in its statement. “If the grading is done pursuant to an honest evaluation, sanctioning a professor for grading students too rigorously amounts to punishing him or her for being truthful about the quality of the students’ work—that is, punishing the instructor for fulfilling the institutional and fiduciary duty to honestly pursue truth. Giving students grades that a competent instructor has concluded, using his or her professional judgment, are not merited is a form of intellectual fraud.”
The statement continued, “NYU’s decision, including the haste and summary manner in which it was reached, appears to be another example of the trend in higher education to devolve more academic authority from faculty into the hands of administrative entities whose backgrounds and expertise reside elsewhere than pedagogy, research, and the pursuit of truth. This clear trend of devolution has obvious and unfortunate implications for academic freedom and the public good.”
- Full text of the AFA’s statement
- Coverage of the controversy in the New York Times
- Interview with Prof. Jones in the Chronicle of Higher Education