A faculty member at the University of New Hampshire has resigned because of social media posts that violated the school’s policy against “intimidation and harassment,” school officials said in a cryptically worded statement.
The statement by the school’s president, James W. Dean, and Nadine Petty, associate vice president for diversity, did not identify the professor or the department that previously employed them. It also does not describe what actions triggered the university investigation.
“It has been four months since we were first made aware of serious allegations of misconduct by a member of our faculty on social media,” the leaders said in the Feb. 10 joint statement. “That investigation is now complete. While we are limited in what we can say in order to protect the privacy of all involved, we can share that the faculty member chose to resign.”
The school said its investigation concluded that “the conduct exhibited was not consistent with the university’s values and our expectation that every faculty member contribute to a professional academic environment free of intimidation and harassment.”
The Globe reported in October that women and people of color in the science community were being trolled online by someone identifying themselves as a woman who also claimed to be a person of color using The Science Femme Twitter account. The actual author of the tweets was quickly identified by online sleuths as a white male associate UNH professor.
The poster routinely derided diversity and inclusion efforts, “wokeness” in science, and transgender people. The account also took credit for “killing my [department’s] woke statement on social unrest” following the death of George Floyd by removing “all woke terminology ... including anti-racism, white supremacy, white privilege, and claims of systemic racism.”
One of those targeted was Gina Chaput, a UNH graduate completing postdoctoral studies in molecular microbiology at North Carolina State University who said in a telephone interview Tuesday she was disappointed UNH did not identify the offending professor by name.
“I think he should have been publicly identified … so he is not hired somewhere else,” she said. “It wasn’t like he took his beliefs and went too far. He took actions to actually harass people.”
Using the Twitter account, the UNH employee took an old photograph of Chaput wearing headphones and notified her university supervisor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that she was breaking workplace safety rules in the lab.
Chaput said she was interviewed by UNH last fall about the professor, and also said that once her name was connected to the school investigation through media coverage, at least three other people reported being targeted. She referred them to UNH also.
“In my situation, it was a very clear example of belief into actions to actually attempting to harm someone’s career,” said Chaput, who added she was not sanctioned by her school because she immediately notified them about the false nature of the allegation being made against her.