CAREER DEVELOPMENT / FEB. 18, 2014
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Rutgers Professor is Suspended for Not Knowing Course Material

A Rutgers University professor was suspended after he informed students that he knew nothing about the course he was appointed to teach for the semester.

According to Rutgers' school newspaper, The Daily Targum, Professor Robert Trivers specializes in “anthropological and biological sciences” at the university, but he now faces suspension without pay. 

The university’s administration assigned Trivers to the Department of Anthropology’s “Human Aggression" class. On the first day of class, the 70-year-old admitted to his students that he was not qualified to lead lecture as he is a social theory instructor.

“I complained right away and repeatedly that I know very little about the subject,” he told the school’s newspaper. 

However, the School of Arts and Sciences’ Executive Dean declined to compromise with Trivers.

Although the renowned teacher knew nothing about the topic at hand, he insisted that he would learn the material alongside his students. He even assured that guest lecturers would assist in the lessons.

Previous reports confirm that Trivers suffers from bipolar disorders and has had three breakdowns since 1994.

One of his latest breakdowns occurred in April 2012 when the campus banned him for attacking one of his fellow anthropology colleagues, Professor Lee Cronk.

Additionally, the Department of Anthropology has removed him as the course instructor of his usual class, “Introduction to Social Evolution.” 

Ironically, Cronk is allotted to replace him. 

Trivers has been in charge of teaching the course since 1973. Now that it has been “yanked” from him, he is in mere distraught and still does not comprehend the decision made.

“You would think the University would show a little respect for my teaching abilities on subjects that I know about and not force me to teach a course on a subject that I do not at all master,” he said.

Trivers reportedly said that his treatment was unfair and that his professional qualifications speak for themselves.

“I don’t want to sound immodest, but I am one of the greatest social theorists in evolutionary biology alive, period,” Trivers said. “I won the Crafoord Prize, which is considered the Nobel Prize for evolution, [worth] half a million dollars. I’m not an underperformer.”

It seems that reviews on Rate My Professors prove him to be right since he has received high ratings from students in the past. 

One student wrote in 2013:

“He IS as brilliant as they say, and by "they," I mean the handful of people out there who care about social evolution. The kind of stuff he talks about: once you see it, it cannot be unseen. You will realize the truth, but for the price of irreversible social dysfunction. Like the Matrix!!”

Fortunately, Trivers has yet to be completely terminated from his position. He is schedule to go through an investigative process where he will have to explain the events that took place that day. From there, Rutgers University will make their decision accordingly.

So clearly, the lesson that  college professors can learn from this is: never inform your students that you are ill prepared, in any circumstance! If so, severe career consequences may follow. 

The department’s chairman Douglas Blair has refused to comment on the matter.

Image via Youtube

 

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