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U. of New Mexico Censures Professor Over Tweet About Fat Ph.D. Applicants

The University of New Mexico announced on Tuesday that it had censured Geoffrey F. Miller, an associate professor of psychology, for “misrepresenting” his motivation for posting a Twitter message about obese Ph.D. applicants that he said was part of a research project.

On June 2, Mr. Miller tweeted that obese Ph.D. applicants would not have the willpower to finish a dissertation if they did not have the willpower to control their appetites. He deleted the tweet the same day, apologized in the face of widespread criticism, and later asserted that he had sent the message as part of a research project. Both the University of New Mexico and New York University, where he has been a visiting professor this summer, investigated and found that the tweet was not research requiring the approval of their institutional review boards.

New Mexico said in a written statement that the censure had been imposed because it was determined that Mr. Miller had violated faculty policies governing integrity and honesty.

As part of the censure, the university said Mr. Miller would be required to have his work monitored by the chair of the psychology department, to work with faculty advisers of the department’s diversity organization to develop a plan for sensitivity training, and to apologize to the department and his colleagues. He will also not be allowed to serve on any committee involving the admission of graduate students to the psychology department.

The university also said Jane Ellen Smith, the psychology department’s chair, had investigated Mr. Miller’s interactions with students and colleagues, and found “no evidence” that he had discriminated against people who are overweight.

Mr. Miller can appeal the censure, and will be returning to New Mexico in the fall, the university said.

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