UNM Psychology Professor Faces Disciplinary Actions over ‘Obese Tweet’


The University of New Mexico (UNM) has imposed disciplinary actions against Geoffrey F. Miller, an associate professor of psychology who was harshly criticized for tweeting about obese Ph.D. applicants that he claimed were a part of a research project.

The penalties were imposed against the professor for violating UNM Faculty Handbook policies regarding integrity and honesty.

"The university is sensitive to the impact of the tweet and the subsequent media coverage on potential applicants to UNM and is very aware of the potential for harm," the university said.

Miller will neither lose his job nor pay. As part of the sanctions,

-  Miller's work will be monitored by the chair of the psychology department;

-  He will have to work with faculty advisers of the Psychology Department's Diversity Organization to develop a sensitivity training plan for obesity;

-  He will be assigned a faculty mentor for three years and

-  He must apologize to the psychology department and his colleagues

-  He will also not be allowed to be part of any graduate admissions committee

On June 2, Miller posted a twitter message that said,

 "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 was forced to delete the tweet later that day, following a widespread criticism. He apologized and then claimed that the tweet was part of a research project.

But when Institutional Review Boards at the UNM and at the New York University (NYU), where he has been a visiting professor this summer, investigated, they found that the tweet was not research-related and required the approval of their institutional review boards.

"The board concluded that Miller's tweets were self-promotional in nature and did not follow research criteria which require specific research questions or hypotheses, systematic methods for collection quantitative and/or qualitative data and criteria for selecting respondents," the university's review board said.

Since the incident, Miller made his Twitter account private and has not tweeted since.

Miller is on leave from UNM while serving as a visiting professor at NYU. He is scheduled to return to UNM this fall.

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