Apparently, it is not just students that quit, professors do to. One Texas A&M University Galveston professor became so fed up with his class that he quit the course and left his students with a parting gift, failed grades for each one. The professor was so disheartened by his students behavioral and academic performance that he sent them an email on Thursday, April 23, 2015 letting them know exactly how he felt about them personally and academically. The university administration has already lined up another professor to finish off the semester, all the students will be reevaluated, and the failing marks would not be the final marks for the students.
Ethics and management Professor Irwin Horwitz sent his strategic management class an email letting them know of his plans for him and them for the course. Horwitz expressed to his students that he had reached his “breaking point” and had enough of their lying, backstabbing and cheating, and said they lacked maturity needed in the working world. The management professor detailed what the students had done to bring him to this point. He recounted that they “told him to ‘chill out’ and they called him a ‘[expletive] moron.'”
Horwitz, 53 wrote the following in the email to the 30-plus students in his class:
“Since teaching this course, I have caught and seen cheating, been told to ‘chill out,’ ‘get out of my space,’ ‘go back and teach,’ [been] called a ‘f****** moron’ to my face, [had] one student cheat by signing in for another, one student not showing up but claiming they did, listened to many hurtful and untrue rumors about myself and others, been caught between fights between students….
None of you, in my opinion, given the behavior in this class, deserve to pass, or graduate to become an Aggie, as you do not in any way embody the honor that the university holds graduates should have within their personal character.
‘It is thus for these reasons why I am officially walking away from this course. I am frankly and completely disgusted.
You all lack the honor and maturity to live up to the standards that Texas A&M holds, and the competence and/or desire to do the quality work necessary to pass the course just on a grade level…. I will no longer be teaching the course, and all are being awarded a failing grade.”
Professor Horwitz sent a similar email to the university officials about his decision to fail the students, but added that they are “your problem now.”
Horwitz explained his position to KPRC-TV on Friday, April 24, telling them “Enough was enough,” and that “Yesterday I reached the breaking point.” The management professor noted, “It became apparent that they couldn’t do some of the most simple and basic things they should have been able to do.” He recounted that the “students spread rumors about him, and he felts so threatened at one point he wanted “police protection.” Professor Horwitz explained, “I was dealing with cheating, dealing with individuals swearing at me both in and out of class, it got to the point that the school had to put security guards at that class and another class.”
Horowitz also pointed that that this reaction was an abnormally for him in the 20 years he taught, “This class is unique. I have never failed a class, it is very rare that I fail students, sometimes learning incorporates tough love.” In another interview on Monday, April 27 Horwitz expressed, “I have nothing left. I put my neck on the line for what I thought was the right thing to do.” At this point the university has not said anything about Horwitz’s future at the university just that he is on sick leave until the end of the semester.
The professor also blamed the university for being too lax with the students and not enforcing the honor code “The administration is all about passing these kids through and making as much money as possible.” The vice president of Academic affairs Dr. Patrick Louchouarn responded, “We hold students accountable if there is evidence of cheating or misconduct. Similarly, we do not allow faculty to punish an entire class if there is no evidence of widespread misconduct or cheating. The University is appropriately evaluating the situation and will have no further comment until we have completed our process of gathering accurate information.”
Students were shocked at the professor’s reaction and decision to fail the entire class. One senior John Shaw was worried how the mark would affect his prospective job, saying it is “Just ridiculous, I had never had a problem in the class. I thought I had done pretty well, done pretty well on the first test and then I get an email saying I am going to get an F in the class, it was overwhelming.”
College Provost Louchouarn notified the students that the failing marks are not going to stick, because the semester is not finished yet and marks can only be awarded when a course is complete. Louchouarn indicated, “None of them have failed until the end of the class, meaning the only reason a student would fail because he or she has not performed the expectations for that particular class.” Meanwhile, the department’s chair was taking over teaching duties for the class, the new instructor will review the past work and marks. Many of the students are seniors that are required to take the course to graduate.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are academic & universities news, particularly history & library news.