By Katy Murphy

BERKELEY — UC Berkeley students are demanding the campus keep a popular and outspoken math lecturer who claims he is being pushed out, in part, for being too good a teacher.

Thousands of students and other supporters of lecturer Alexander Coward signed a petition sent to the math department, and about 50 rallied Tuesday afternoon outside of a meeting in University Hall where Coward was discussing a grievance he filed about the decision, calling for their top-rated university to make good teaching — not just prestige — a priority.

“Let’s take the opportunity to show administration that they cannot dismiss an amazing teacher for caring about his students and for causing ‘problems by teaching too well,’ ” the student organizers wrote on a Facebook page promoting the event.

In a 2,500-word statement titled “Blowing the whistle on the UC Berkeley mathematics department,” Coward speculated that his popularity and reluctance to adhere to some department norms threatened some of his more highly paid, tenured colleagues.

Coward, who was hired in 2013 and teaches about 800 students each semester, mainly in calculus, said he was told last fall that the department was not considering a renewal of his contract after it expires next June. His refusal to regularly grade homework problems — which, he argues, is not an effective way to motivate students — at times put him at odds with the department, he said.

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[Source]: Contra Costa Times