Less than two weeks after former Harvard instructor David D. Kane began teaching at Simmons University, the school announced Kane’s class would be canceled and his contract would not be renewed.
Kane left Harvard in June 2021 following accusations that he had posted a series of racist blog posts under a pseudonym. After he began teaching at Simmons University this fall, the school said it was not aware of the blog posts during its hiring process and that it would create a new section of the course and allow students to transfer out of Kane’s class without penalty.
But Simmons announced Friday afternoon that enrollment numbers for Kane’s class — Statistics 118: “Introductory Statistics” — had dipped below the minimum threshold, prompting the school to cancel the course section for the rest of the semester.
“In addition, Simmons will not be renewing his contract,” the university’s Interim Provost Russell Pinizzotto wrote in an email.
In September 2020, students in Harvard’s Government 50: “Data” course, which was taught by Kane at the time, accused the instructor of authoring racist posts on EphBlog, a website founded by Kane for affiliates of Williams College, his alma mater.
The blog featured several posts by an author named “David Dudley Field ’25,” one of which was signed “David Kane ’88.” In the posts, Field criticized “Black supremacy” in the NBA and alleged that more than 90 percent of Black students at Williams College would not have been admitted if not for their race.
Simmons announced that Kane’s section of the statistics course would be discontinued during a sit-in of Kane’s section, according to the college’s newspaper, The Simmons Voice. Students flooded the classroom and questioned the instructor about the blog posts.
“Simmons respects the right of student free expression, and we believe that sit-ins, protests, and peaceful demonstrations are important forms of that expression,” Simmons President Lynn Perry Wooten wrote in a statement. “In the coming days, Simmons will host a meeting with students, and we are also reviewing HR best practices.”
Once university administrators sent notice of the course’s cancellation, students applauded as Kane exited the classroom, according to The Voice.
—Staff writer Alexander I. Fung can be reached at [email protected]