UNM professor censured

Posted at: 08/06/2013 10:09 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The professor who took to Twitter to blast fat PhD applicants won’t lose his job, but UNM’s investigation found Geoffrey Miller violated faculty policies.

In response, UNM has censured the tenured associate professor of psychology.

The university also says it will use this case as a teaching moment.

Miller actually asked to stay at New York University, where he’s been teaching this summer, but NYU rejected his request, said UNM.

So he’ll be back, but with some penalties.

Earlier this summer, while teaching at NYU, he tweeted this:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Miller apologized, saying the tweet was part of a research project, though an investigation later found there was no official research.

The controversial professor will return to UNM this fall.

But UNM is taking his questionable tweet and using it as a learning experience.

Local psychologist Dr. Philip Reed, PsyD, who does not work at UNM, said that’s a good idea.

"I think it's surprising about how many people of all intellectual abilities can have stereotypes and biases and many times they're not very aware of them, they've never had it confronted by anyone," he said about the stigma associated with obesity.

While UNM’s investigation found no evidence that Miller has discriminated against overweight people, UNM’s Psychology Department is bringing an obesity stigma expert it says “to help educate the community on this important issue.”

“I think this is a wonderful growth and learning opportunity for the entire campus for people to explore these types of stereotypes and biases," said Reed.

As part of the censure, Miller will be required to:

  • Not serve on any committee involving the admission of graduate students to the Psychology Department for the duration of his time as a faculty member at UNM.
  • Work with the faculty co-advisors of the Psychology Department’s Diversity Organization to develop a plan for sensitivity training as it pertains to obesity.  The plan must be approved by a co-advisor or by the chair of the department.
  • Be assigned a faculty mentor for three years with whom he will meet on a regular basis to discuss potential problems.
  • Have his work monitored by the chair of the Psychology Department.
  • Apologize to the department and his colleagues for his behavior.

Miller can appeal his censure.

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