The Strange Saga of ‘Deplorable NYU Prof’

A Twitter account and now, paid leave.

New York University Liberal Studies professor Michael Rectenwald has spoken in recent days to the New York Post and NYU newspaper Washington Square News. But it’s still difficult to determine exactly what transpired.

Rectenwald, at the beginning of September, started a Twitter account through which he anonymously, as “Deplorable NYU Prof,” criticized elements on campus that he perceived as political correctness gone awry. He revealed himself Oct. 24 as the operator of the Twitter account and is now on paid leave through the rest of the semester.

It all came to a head last Wednesday, as a letter signed by a dozen students and colleagues was published in the NYU student newspaper and a meeting separately held. From yesterday’s Washington Square News item:

Rectenwald said that the Liberal Studies department called him into its office last Wednesday to speak about his mental health after a colleague reported concerns about his mental state. Rectenwald knows the person who filed the report and thinks they did it for the sake of saving him from being attacked by the NYU community for his differing viewpoints.

Rectenwald said that he will try to relax and begin preparing for what might come next, especially as he waits for a decision on whether he becomes a full-time professor on a tenured track.

“I’m going to think this through to get a handle of what’s going on–I may have to get representation for the possibility that my promotion will be foiled somehow,” Rectenwald said. “And my return might be jeopardized somehow, so I’ll probably have to get representation. Getting a job outside of NYU would be very difficult.”

In both the Post and Washington Square News, a spokesperson for the school explains that the kind of paid leave taken by Rectenwald must be requested by the employee.