An embattled, but tenured, University of Pennsylvania law professor will no longer teach first-year classes after making disparaging remarks about black students, according to school officials.
In a video interview recorded last fall with Brown University economics professor Glenn Loury, Amy Wax discussed the “downside of affirmative action.”
“I don't think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely, rarely, in the top half,” she said around minute 49. “I can think of one or two students … in my required first-year course.”
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As a result of the comments and a subsequent petition signed by alumni and students, Wax will no longer teach mandatory first-year classes, law school dean Ted Ruger announced in an emailed statement.
“Professor Wax has chosen to speak publicly, disparagingly, and inaccurately about the performance of these students, some of whom she has taught and graded confidentially at Penn Law,” he said.
The confidentiality policy prohibits any faculty or staff from publicly releasing grades and class rankings, Ruger said.
But because Wax has tenure at the university, she will maintain her salary, seniority and, ultimately, job.
“It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate,” Ruger said.
“Its editors are selected based on a competitive process. And contrary to any suggestion otherwise, black students at Penn Law are extremely successful, both inside and outside the classroom, in the job market, and in their careers.”
According to her biography, Wax is an Ivy League-educated law professor who argued 15 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She worked in the Department of Justice after receiving her law degree from Columbia University.
She could not be reached for comment.
This story has been corrected to clarify the change to Wax's course load.