Texas A&M-Galveston professor Irwin Horwitz recently failed an entire 30 person class he was teaching, shocking students and fellow academics alike. (Photo: KPRC)
Frustrated with behavior that he says left him “completely disgusted,” Texas A&M Galveston professor Irwin Horwitz recently failed his entire strategic management class and emailed the 30-odd students a lengthy explanation why.
“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--king 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,” the 53-year-old wrote in the note to his class, shared Monday on KPRC. Announcing that he was dropping out of teaching the course and awarding each student a failing grade, he blasted: “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.”
On Tuesday, school officials confirmed that another professor will take over the class until the end of the semester — noting that the “F” marks will also be going along with Horwitz.
“Each student will receive an individual grade based upon work completed during the semester,” says Patrick Louchouarn, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at the Galveston Campus and associate provost of Texas A&M University. He tells Yahoo Parenting that there is no class-wide cheating investigation underway, either, noting, “The university is listening to concerns about this issue from students and faculty and will address them according to our policies.”
Still, Horwitz insists he was justified in his upset and assessment. “Enough was enough,” he told KPRC. “It is very rare that I fail students, sometimes learning incorporates tough love…I put my neck on the line for what I thought was the right thing to do.”
The way he did it, however, is under fire — not just from upset students and faculty, but the very academic community to which he’s belonged for 20 years.
“No professor should ever walk away from an entire course, no matter how challenging the context,” Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Long before a class starts to get out of hand, a faculty member needs to establish an explicit understanding of mutual responsibilities — faculty and students alike — in ensuring the quality of the class experience.”
Daniel Hurley, associate vice president for Government Relations and State Policy at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, even likens the incident to that of the Jet Blue flight attendant who infamously quit his job in 2010 (by releasing a tirade of obscenities over the plane intercom before pulling the emergency-evacuation chute and jumping out of the aircraft at Kennedy International Airport). He tells Yahoo Parenting that Horwitz was a “bad-day syndrome” victim. “Clearly this is extreme aberration from what typically takes place in terms of professors failing students.”
In recent years, the use of cell phones and social media during class has become a bone of contention between teachers and students, contributing to many professors’ frustration with their classroom dynamic. “So there’s certainly blame to go around,” Hurley says.
What this drama schools everyone in, Hurley adds, is Manners 101: “It serves as a reminder of the need for both professors and students to demonstrate civility and respect.”