Fox News reports that Maitland Jones Jr., a chemistry professor who had also taught for four decades at Princeton, was fired in August after undergraduate students circulated a petition complaining that his course was too difficult.
Dozens of students, many of them aspiring doctors, signed on to the petition in the spring, claiming that their scores were "not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into" Jones' class.
A spokesman for the university says the petition was only part of the reason for Jones' dismissal, noting that his class also had a "very high rate of student withdrawals" and "evaluations scores that were by far the worst" across the school's undergraduate science courses.
However, Christian author and commentator Janice Crouse says at least one of the other NYU professors thinks this situation could have dire consequences.
"One faculty prof. said once the word gets out that only a quarter of the students can petition for a prof. to get fired, I think we'll see a lot more of these kinds of attempts and even more threats to do so in order to get good grades," she notes.
Crouse also points out that Professor Jones has a world-wide reputation. He wrote a textbook and is known as an expert chemist, so she submits that anyone having trouble with his basic courses should probably reconsider their careers in medicine.
"If you don't have the innate ability to understand one of the basic courses that is in the pre-med curriculum, you don't have the ability to be a good doctor," she contends. "So, this is a weeding out course."
84-year-old Jones says he is not interested in returning to NYU, but he is likewise concerned about the precedent his firing could set.
"I don't want my job back," he told The New York Times. "I just want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."