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SNHU fires online professor who didn't know Australia is a country as well as a continent

New Hampshire Sunday News

February 09. 2018 2:03PM
An Australian flag flies below a military helicopter past the Sydney Opera House as a performer balances on a flyboard Jan. 26. (Reuters)

Southern New Hampshire University has fired an online adjunct professor and apologized to an Idaho student after the professor gave the student a failing grade and insisted that Australia is not a country.

Lauren Keane, assistant vice president of communications for the Manchester-based university, acknowledged that a story about what happened to SNHU online student Ashley Arnold of Idaho, reported by BuzzFeed News on Thursday, is true.

Keane said SNHU is not identifying the professor involved, “at the student’s request.” She said the teacher “does not live in New Hampshire and does not work on campus.”

According to BuzzFeed, Arnold is a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom completing an online sociology degree from SNHU. As part of a final class, she was required to complete a project comparing a familial trend in the United States with its effects in another country.

Arnold chose to compare social media use, and picked Australia for her country. But the female professor had marked her down in several sections of the assignment, resulting in a failing grade, because, the teacher wrote, “Australia is a continent; not a country.”

Arnold sent back convincing evidence that Australia is in fact both a continent and a country. She also contacted SNHU administration — and BuzzFeed News.

Arnold later got a revised grade of B+ and the professor was fired, according to Keane.

“Following an investigation, we have replaced the instructor as we strive to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in educating our students,” Keane said in an email.

“We deeply regret the interaction between our professor and our student and have apologized to the student and refunded her for the class,” she wrote.

Keane also offered a message “to our friends and colleagues” in Australia: “We know that you are a country and a continent. Best of luck in the Olympic games!”

General News Manchester