Brian Klatt was teaching two math courses this semester. His page on the math department website currently says he is on administrative leave. (Courtesy of Klatt's faculty page)

Visiting math professor removed from the classroom following social media posts brought to university’s attention

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A visiting math professor was removed from the Lehigh University classroom last month following an anonymous complaint that alleged the professor was posting racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic content from an anonymous Twitter account.

Visiting assistant professor Brian Klatt, ‘13G, is no longer teaching certain sections of Calculus II and Calculus I, Part A, and Lehigh director of media relations Lori Friedman confirmed in an email that Klatt is no longer employed by the university.

As of Nov. 8, Klatt’s profile is still on the math department website, where it says he is on “administrative leave.” On Lehigh’s course registration system, Klatt is no longer listed as the instructor for either course. 

We can confirm that certain social media posts were recently brought to the University’s attention from an anonymous source and the situation is being reviewed,” Friedman said in an email. “We are not able to share additional information as to any personnel matters. We encourage anyone who has concerns to contact Lehigh’s Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, Karen Salvemini.”

The Brown and White also received a tip from an anonymous source. In an email, the source attached a 26-page document compiling screenshots of more than 50 tweets from an anonymous Twitter account with the handle @DumbGeometer — an account created in December 2015. 

Additionally, the document drew numerous correlations between specific references in certain tweets to activities and events occurring at Lehigh when Klatt would have been present as student. Klatt earned his master’s degree in mathematics from Lehigh in 2013 and his doctorate in mathematics in 2018. 

The document also highlighted tweets with specific references to activities, courses and a classroom number referenced by the Twitter account when Klatt was teaching.

Finally, the document also pointed out similarities between @DumbGeometer and Klatt. Klatt and @DumbGeometer studied the same math theories, received their doctorates in the same month and year and both produced math YouTube videos. 

The Twitter account has since been deleted, though several of the posts included in the document could still be viewed in search engine web caches at the time of this report.

The Brown and White cannot confirm if the account was run by Klatt, nor would university officials confirm if the document sent by the anonymous source was the same tip they received. The document was sent to The Brown and White by the anonymous source on Oct. 15, consistent with the timeline of Klatt’s removal from the classroom.

A student in Klatt’s Calculus II class told The Brown and White that the former visiting assistant professor was removed abruptly from the course and has not taught since Oct. 15.

Some of Klatt’s former colleagues also received the document.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Klatt worked at Rutgers from the fall of 2018 to the spring of 2021. In an email, John Cramer, Rutgers’ director of public and media relations, confirmed Klatt’s former employment. 

Corrine Yap, a math doctoral student at Rutgers was a graduate teaching assistant for one of Klatt’s linear algebra courses in the spring of 2019. 

She said she had seen the @DumbGeometer Twitter account interacting with people she knew and followed. 

She said the same document that The Brown and White received allegedly connecting Klatt to the account was sent to a few people in the Rutgers math department, including herself on Oct. 14. 

Klatt did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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57 Comments

  1. The lack of examples of the offensive emails leaves the article readers at a loss to make a judgement as to the reasonableness of the dismissal. Regardless of the reasonableness, there is obviously no academic freedom at Lehigh University. I stopped donating and cannot picture ever donating again because Lehigh and higher education generally has become a political indoctrination effort. Lehigh University graduate Class of 1974. BA, BS, MBA.

    • Stephen, you should be mad at Lehigh for the poor education you apparently received there. How did you receive three degrees without learning that academic freedom is about freedom within “academics” – courses, research, etc. ?

      Sounds like you’re angry about the way the country has changed in your lifetime, particularly how much of the country is against sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism. I’m sure it’s tough to be on the wrong side of history. That you say it’s “political indoctrination” for the university to not want to employ a professor who publicly promotes sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic, ideas tells me everything about the world you want to live in, and that world is quickly disappearing,

      • The desire to flay people because they ask for evidence rivals the intolerance this former professor *apparently* displayed.

      • You sound like you are in the know and have passed judgment already.
        So please tell us what these misogynistic and racists posts were that you speak of?
        I’d like to see them so I can fairly weigh his actions before judging.

      • Nonsense. We don’t even know what was said. No one hates or persecutes more than a leftist, assuming something was said that was actually, in reality, improper. Perhaps he insinuated math wasn’t racist.

      • Robert F. Davenport Jr on

        Some people are upset by the enhancement and weaponizing of the terms sexism, racism, et al so as to use them as tools to bludgeon people into submission to particular agendas.

        Disagreement is seen as disrespectful and offensive. Individuals have become god like. Even those who hate our former president emulate him.

        The strongly held political ideals of today are similar in some ways to those of 160 years ago. I would say neither side is on the right side of history and neither is headed in the right direction.

      • Isn’t Stephen’s point clearly expressed? I thought so. The article does not contain a single example of anything that could be considered racist, misogynistic, or anti-Semitic. I have the same problem with the original article, namely that it offers no evidence to support its headline and conclusions. Bill, rather than pivot to an attack based on assumptions without proof, how about a conversation regarding content? That seems more reasonable to me.

  2. Pearl Anderson on

    My daughter was in one of his classes. I told her something significant must have happened. Well, if these allegations are true, then I am offended not only as her mother, but as an alumni of Lehigh’s graduate program myself. I thought we were better than this. No, we *are* better than this. … I trust the university to investigate, and if true, well, don’t let the door hit ya, Bud. (MS, PhD-Physics, Lehigh ’96. Husband was MS, PhD-Physics Lehigh ’91. Proud parents of current freshman, and proud donors. Oh, and Go Zoellner!)

  3. Dear Stephen Wagner,

    I also am very curious to see what material lead to this dismissal, but strongly disagree with your comments regarding academic freedom. For starters, it seems the person in question had a teaching position, rather than a research position, and none of the issues mentioned in the article (“racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic content from an anonymous Twitter account”) are academic in nature. These issues however clearly affect his ability to teach students at Lehigh, who, love it or hate it, form a diverse cohort. If his research was well reasoned but not “politically correct” (whatever that means), I could understand the academic freedom perspective. In this case, it seems that an employee seems unable to reasonably fulfill the duties outlined in their job, and were accordingly put on leave while that thesis is under review.

    Regards,

  4. Robert Davenporet on

    DumbGeometer is an appropriate handle for Mr. Klatt.

    I am sure the University is handling this carefully due to the free speech aspects of it his comments are X ( provide appropriate adjectives) but possibly he was smart enough not to show his particular biases in class.

    If he is summarily fired it would lead to possible calls for such action on others who may be on the left side of the fence.

    If he is technically an effective professor I would like to see him have the opportunity to change into a caring, respectful person rather than forcing him to drink the DEI Kool Aid. Confrontation may be needed but it will not solve a problem by itself.

      • Robert F. Davenport Jr on

        Yes it is slow.

        In other words we should write off and destroy those we disagree with. That seems to be Mr. Klatt’s problem; he sees things he is upset with and over-reacts. There are lots of hateful students at Wellesley and other educational institutions who do the same.

        What is it that Lehigh students or you and I need to be protected from. I don’t have to be protected from the garbage he spews and I doubt if you do either. Is there any evidence that he has treated students with bias?

        Using bias as a basis we could probably start a real witch hunt for offending professors both left and right.

        Almost everybody could be suspect; we may need rehabilitation in order to populate a University staff.

    • Lehigh’s problem is that the only thing it provides to quench your thirst is that DEI Kool Aid. Just as with the Jones-town Kool Aid, it will ultimately kill you.

      I contend that the DEI Kool Aid bar needs to be shut down. Thus it is time to eliminate the entirety of what is shown on Lehigh’s organization chart at:

      http://www.lehigh.edu/~pres/orgchart/luorgchart.pdf

      Page 4 shows the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity with its preposterous array of various advocacy bigots.

      All of these are sinecure jobs and should be eliminated.

      This nonsense is absurd political correctness foolishness at its worst.

  5. Ummm is no one going to address that there is a commenter commenting under the name ANTIFAmath, who seems to be the person who compiled all of this against Mr. Klatt? I want to point out that Bill Moon, whoever that is, is blatantly accusing Stephen Wagner of being a racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic right in these comments because he has his own opinion about how this poorly written article was published by an obviously incompetent writer. Does anyone not see the larger issue here? Anyone? Is this just an abyss that we cant get out of? Everyone is in jeopardy of their careers because of people like this? Hello?

    • Oh we hear you loud and clear- I’m so sick of this nonsense too where we can’t voice our opinions and ideas and beliefs just because Liberal leftists will get anyone fired for it if this beliefs are not in line with their own. Everything to them is racist, or bigoted or some other nonsense .

    • Robert F. Davenport Jr on

      Professor Hicks: I assumed that no Lehigh math faculty member would act in a non-professional way toward students nor would any openly back odious statements. The letter appears to be “virtue signaling” (which term many decry) or alternatively, jumping on the politically correct bandwagon.

  6. Robert F. Davenport Jr on

    Nigel: Be more specific. “This” could be anything so you can be seen as supportive of either side. Nothing can be gained unless you take a position; of course many don’t want to hear a different viewpoint and will strongly object to it; they don’t want to gain anything.

  7. It’s strange to me why this is the stated reason for firing Klatt. Surely, if his being bigoted is truly problematic, we should be able to find clear instances in which he actually failed his particular duties. In absence of that, this feels a bit like like “Minority Report” to me. Of course, the university is fully within its rights to fire him. However, just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

  8. This article with it myriad of utterly ridiculous comments causes me to agree with the first commenter Stephen Wagner.

    Namely that Lehigh has become a cesspool of liberal indoctrination that I too refuse to support.

    • Robert F. Davenport Jr on

      Maybe we should bring back the Engineers as a mascot. Engineers are tasked with creating workable solutions; hawks are attack animals although not profligate killers.

      Students tend to be more liberal than those who graduated years before them and apparently so are a majority of professors but I doubt the board is. I wouldn’t classify Lehigh as “a cesspool of liberal indoctrination” I choose to support Lehigh in the hope that the university is a place for education and inquiry and not a place of indoctrination.

    • I would add, if people are paying to go there- stop. It’s clearly not a place that allows for freedom of thought or rigorous debate with different points of view.

      • Robert F. Davenport Jr on

        Cristina: Unfortunately there are not many universities you can attend to get rigorous debate and many are worse than Lehigh
        .

    • Here’s a few screenshots of his tweets. Remember that 40% of Lehigh’s students are not white and think about how you could possibly have justify someone with such explicitly racist views teaching there. Unless you believe that explicit racism & support of Nazi ideology are conservative principals, firing Klatt isn’t “liberal indoctrination”. It’s a good & necessary business decision for a school where 40% of the student body are not white.

      https://ibb.co/album/stdy1r

  9. After reading through the report link above posted by ANTIFAmath, LOL. This person who put this together to fire Mr. Klatt is the exact same person (type of) that wants to see the end of comedy like Dave Chappelle. This exact same type of person. Every tweet I read is either satire or a joke, and CLEARLY this person, im going to guess this person is (https://twitter.com/pwr2dppl) HAS ZERO sense of humor and just wants to destroy lives of people that HE/SHE deems fit. If you click on this persons twitter, ALL I SEE IT RACISM and SEXISM. But that’s ok, right?

  10. I feel that we are heading the wrong way in this country, big time! For one thing, if you guys have noticed, both progressives and conservatives agree on that! Obviously, we disagree on what it is that is wrong with the country and we are not willing to reach out to the other side and talk about our common concerns. We just prefer to hold on to our own views, our own like-minded friends, our own interpretations, and avoid discussions with the other side, because we don’t want to make ourselves or others feel bad or discomfort!
    And so, life goes on in today’s America!

    What happened in that University setting was regrettably one more example of how unwilling we are to talk about things that bother us one way or another.

    Instead – by acting on an anonymous tip! – that same University that had prior decided to deem that person worthy of teaching its students, has now decided to let that person go, based on info that became available to them through an anonymous tip!

    So, what is it? Is it that the institution that hired that person, on the first place, didn’t actually do its due diligence prior to deciding to hire that person? Or, is it that their employee at the time, has so dramatically changed his views or behavior within three years that these personal views or behavior are no longer tolerated by the institution’s code of conduct?
    Or, is it fair to that former now employee to have his reputation and name tarnished publicly before any evidence has been deliberated and a fair judgment has been reached regarding first the validity of those claims and then the actual harm that this person has done to his students?

    There are so many things done wrong here, but the most important one is that someone has been forever condemned for wrongdoing by an anonymous someone who disseminated condemning information about somebody else’s harmful behavior!

    As for those former university colleagues who rushed to condemn their former colleague based on info provided by an anonymous someone, let’s hope that they will never have to find themselves in a position to have to defend their own repute based on someone’s allegations about their own, supposedly, ill intents, if any, before proved or disproved so in a court of law.

    • Well said Niko. Unfortunately what you failed to address is that the so called “left” and even extreme “left” have a safe place in institutions like Lehigh University, even when they are openly speaking nonsense that one might deem to be offensive. They get a pass, and if you are a nonwhite male, you get any pass you want. Right? Can we agree to this? Can you explain what’s happening here?

      • Robert F. Davenport Jr on

        Abby: I see this as a result of government action through the legalization of particular groups who are to be protected by diversity training and, increasingly, other means. Codewords (eg safe place, micro aggressions) are used to consolidate power and use that power to attain goals and gain more power. Note that this process is typically used by any group throughout the political spectrum.

        It seems that the goal is not to do away with the privilege system but to be in the drivers seat.

  11. Robert F. Davenport Jr on

    Enough already: I generally agree. I wish these were sinecure jobs but I fear that many individuals in them work very hard at things that do not help solve the problem and tend to create more division.

  12. Oh great, another witch hunt by leftists who are out to get everyone they disagree with. Thank you for showing us just how hate filled you are.
    I for one, will repost this to show people just how determined you are to punish anyone who doesn’t fall in with your absurd beliefs.

    • Students (left or right) aren’t safe on this campus when professors espouse hatred towards large swaths of the Lehigh community. Bigotry isn’t an ideology; it is a malign distortion of the psyche, one that defies all logic and reason. And when he has shown to embrace biases against students actively, I can’t trust that I’m being graded fairly. I should be judged by my work, not the ineradicable qualities intrinsic to my personhood. He was punished solely on account of his actions and demonstrably poor judgment. With this, I can continue to trust that I’ll be graded on my academic merit. If Brian Klatt can’t respect qualities that I can’t change, I won’t put him on trial for his thoughts. All I ask, is that he leaves me out of it. I expected nothing more of him than I expected of myself.

      I’m happy to discuss his beliefs, but no amount of talking can alter the characteristics he deems as inferior.

  13. I sincerely hope that your opinion would be changed when you saw exactly what was tweeted from the anonymous account. Racist, sexist jokes about minorities and women being unable to learn math. Jokes that question the validity of the Holocaust. Jokes about wanting to blurt out the n-word in class just to see what would happen. All of this is compiled within the document which you can easily find in the comments of this article. Thrown in with this are damning pieces of evidence which link Klatt to the anonymous Twitter account. As a student of his, I can tell you that @dumbgeometer is most certainly Klatt. The Twitter account specifically referenced things that we were learning in class exactly when we were learning them. This isn’t woke-cancel-culture-1984-soviet-union-b.s. or whatever you want to call it. Professor Klatt wasn’t fired because the university disagreed with his personal views but rather because his personal “views” (if you can even call them that) disagreed with basic humanity. If I knew what Klatt’s views were while he was still teaching me, I would have jumped out of the window simply to get out of the presence of such human scum. This is cut and dry. There is no other side to take on this issue. The idea that he can hold such views and still be able to teach class properly is utterly ludicrous.

    if you still have any doubts, I implore you to read the pdf. It loads slow but should still work.

    • Nick, You can’t make the connection. Who to say it’s not another student in the class? Also, have you ever heard of comedy? Do you know what it is? People who take jokes personal are narcissistic beings. Making everything about themselves, and that’s EXACTLY what this person did. Imagine being friends with that person? Everything you say, they will go and destroy your life if you happen to say something they disagree with? God forbid.

      • Yes, you absolutely can make the connection, do your due diligence and read the document. Klatt posts specifically what classroom he was working in, posted about a topological robotics talk he attended, (offered while he was a PhD student at Lehigh) posted when he recieved his PhD and many more details. He even posts a picture of himself in joker makeup (ironically I hope), and it looks just like Klatt. And please, do not lecture me on comedy. Are racial slurs funny? Was the systematic burning, gassing and animal-like treatment of 6 million people funny? I don’t care what you have to say about the subjectivity of comedy, that isn’t something you can just get away with joking about. Furthermore, if you read his tweets you will see that many of them have not one hint of satire. Finally, if taking a joke about the Holocaust personally makes me a narcissist, then I would proudly call myself one. Don’t pretend like you know what you’re talking about if you haven’t read the document.

        • I read the documents and i don’t see how maybe a mad student made a fake account to get him fired? Seems reasonable to believe these days. And all i see is satire and poor jokes in these tweets. I mean they are funny to people who find it funny. I’m a female and i find jokes damning women very funny. I laugh at them, i laugh at rape jokes, blonde Jokes. Anything horrible against women. I just don’t take it personally and move on with my life, i don’t try to destroy someone’s life because they make jokes. Grow up

        • I read the documents and i don’t see how maybe a mad student made a fake account to get him fired? Seems reasonable to believe these days. And all i see is satire and poor jokes in these tweets. I mean they are funny to people who find it funny. I’m a female and i find jokes damning women very funny. I laugh at them, i laugh at rape jokes, blonde Jokes. Anything horrible against women. I just don’t take it personally and move on with my life, i don’t try to destroy someone’s life because they make jokes. Please do grow up.

      • Abby, you don’t need to make up excuses or defenses for Klatt that he’s not making for himself. He can come out and say that the account isn’t his or that the account was his but they were just jokes & attempts to be funny and he’s not really racist, sexist, and a supporter of Nazi ideology. If I was falsely accused of saying the things he’s been accused of, I would make sure people knew I was innocent. To me, the fact that he’s been silent is telling, Here are some examples of his tweets:

        “For what binds white men together is not the breaking of bread but the breaking of bucks.”

        “Done teaching calculus to minorities for the morning, time to hang out in the racist group chat.”

        “May b I get into the right wing ebook market, write ‘Calculus for Monke’ or some such text”

        “I will never the idea that ‘Communists are as evil as Nazis’. One has the idea of stealing from your neighbor and destroying society baked into the ideology, and the wants to glorify your people.”

        • Right, exactly my point. You don’t know his tone or context to his tweets, If they are his. They are jokes, i see right through it. You’re the same person trying to make comedy not comedy anymore. Grow up. Also, if someone accused you of sexual harassment, rape, whatever.. are you going to listen to what your lawyer suggests or will you continue to go about your normal life? You sound really incompetent to be frank. I think everything on his tweets is hilarious, especially the ones against women. I make the same jokes. Stop trying to destroy peoples lives and get one of your own.

  14. You Gotta Be Kidding on

    I dunno, Cristina. Funny that you describe it as a “hate filled” agenda given that Klatt’s post are quite distinctly filled with misogynistic, racist, Nazi dogwhistle agendas.

  15. It’s not exactly due diligence to try to find out if someone has a secret twitter account that they end up posting enough identifying details on to make it no longer anonymous. So the tip was giving the university new information that they could in no way have been privy to during the hiring process. The most you could say is that the university did a poor character judgement during the interview process.
    The problem at hand here is that it is impossible to believe he won’t act with bias towards his students based on his held beliefs from his twitter account. Even if he manages to ignore his biases for the students’ sake once his opinions of them based solely on their ethnicity is out there I can’t imagine any of his students with identities he disparages being comfortable in his classroom. For instance I’d imagine most Jewish students would have trouble feeling comfortable visiting the office hours of someone they know glorifies fascism and is a holocaust denier. Or a black student being comfortable with someone who currently believes they “…terrorize everyone with impunity in our current society.” I believe the university handled this well from having seen the document provided, and if the record really was off base you’d assume Klatt would at least have something to say for himself. If we want to, instead of a moral perspective, alternatively view the actions of the university from a business perspective I believe their decision is equally wise. The amount of prestige they would lose from continuing to hire someone with such views would make them into a laughing stock as far as colleges go. Additionally I think there would be a lot of blowback from parents and probably students as well if they decided to keep Klatt on board, probably fewer people would apply to the school in the future as well.

    In regards to your last paragraph you fail to make any connection as to why such things would even reach a court of law. As a thought exercise if someone went around saying they would love to eat babies or posted it online repeatedly with no context, you probably wouldn’t see that person and think “hey I should become friends with them/associate with them/keep them hired at my university.” Their claim that they would like to eat babies is not at all illegal, and I believe would be protected free speech, meaning they have freedom from *government imposed* consequences. The same thing is occurring here essentially and I fail to see how or why a court of law would even be a sensible thing to bring into this discussion, but here we are.

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