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Fordham U. fires professor after mixing up the names of two black students

A Fordham University English professor appears to have been fired for the error of mixing up the names of two of his black students in class.

According to The Observer, Christopher Trogan, who referred to the matter as an “innocent mistake,” made the boo-boo back at the end of September, and was fired a month later.

After the class in question, the women sent Trogan an email “expressing that they felt disheartened and disrespected” by the mix-up, and indicated they believed it happened because of their race.

In a response sent to the entire class, Trogan claimed he was “confused” at the moment as he was in the middle of “reading the work of another student” (to the class) when the two women came in late.

In his message, Trogan said anyone who was offended by his mistake should contact the dean and chair of English Department. He concluded by saying he would “give up his position” if the female students felt they were victims of “discrimination.”

One of the students, Chantel Sims (who writes for The Observer), later said she and her peer (who prefers to stay anonymous) actually weren’t “that upset” about the name error, but said Trogan’s response to their email was “excessive.”

Sims said Trogan’s pointing out “everything he has done for minorities” gave the impression of a “white savior complex.”

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Trogan was suspended with pay two days after the incident, and a week later he and a union representative met with Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Eva Badowska via Zoom. Three weeks after that, Trogan was fired.

From the story:

“I was never informed of the charges against me, nor of the nature of the investigation of which I was the subject,” Trogan said in an email to his former students on Oct. 29 after the termination. “I was kept completely in the dark.” …

The anonymous first-year student did not think Fordham would respond so swiftly to the incident. “I was surprised that they just got rid of him,” they said.

According to Trogan, in Badowska’s letter of termination, she did not focus on the original name mix-up. The email he sent to his students on Sept. 24 was the catalyst for termination. He also said Badowska ruled that he had not exhibited “proper development” from the Oct. 5 conversation, which also contributed to the decision.

“Badowska may have carried things out legally, but definitely not morally and certainly not justly,” Trogan told The Observer.

Although a member of the faculty union joined him at the Zoom meeting, Trogan did not have the union’s employment protection due to him switching from “adjunct” to “lecturer” at the beginning of September.

At the beginning of November, Fordham Public Safety Vice President John Carroll informed Trogan he was not permitted on campus under threat of arrest for trespassing. He also warned Trogan not to contact any former students going forward after the prof sent a lengthy letter to all of his former charges about his case.

Read the article.

MORE: Students demand firing of black dean b/c she mixed up black students’ names

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.