Dr. B no longer a UB employee
Beloved professor's employment ended as of January
After being removed from the classroom last semester amid allegations of misbehavior, Dr. Kushal Bhardwaj is no longer a UB employee as of Jan. 10, according to UB spokesperson John Della Contrada.
The Spectrum reached out to Bhardwaj for comment but he did not respond by time of print.
Della Contrada could not provide any information about the circumstances surrounding Bhardwaj’s “appointment ending” because he said the university does not discuss personnel matters.
Bhardwaj, known to students as “Dr. B,” was removed from his African American Studies 100 class in October. He allegedly spoke to a female student in a combative manner and made defensive remarks toward students who submitted complaints about him, according to students and other UB sources.
Bhardwaj’s classes were a favorite among students, and his African American Studies courses always filled up quickly. Students had to be force registered into full classes, and former students would come back and attend his classes just for fun.
He is a three-time winner of the students’ choice Milton Plesur Excellence in Teaching Award. Bhardwaj also ranked as a top African American Studies professor by Rate My Professors in 2017. Most recently, he was honored as the Erie County Legislature’s Citizen of the Month for Feb. 2018.
“He truly treats his students like family,” Kevin Wu, a senior computer science major, said of Bhardwaj. “He provides the classroom with a family-like atmosphere with his humor where students aren’t afraid to speak up, and every voice is heard and respected.”
Chynna Brown, a senior nursing and psychology major, said she feels the way UB has handled the situation with Bhardwaj is unfair and disrespectful to his former students.
“I felt it was unfair to vindicate him and tell him he wasn’t guilty of the allegations he was accused of, and then be fired for no reason,” Brown said. “It’s disrespectful that the university isn’t being vocal about what happened to him. Not telling us, it just disrespects you as a grown person able to handle the information.”
Brown is a transfer student from Niagara University, where she said she felt discriminated against because she is an African American woman. She always wanted to come to UB because she felt it was more diverse. That is why she liked Bhardwaj’s classes –– they were diverse and provided a “comfortable” platform to discuss social issues, Brown said.
“Dr. B’s class was the first class where I saw white men and Asians ask questions about African Americans and diversity,” she said. “Everybody had a platform to speak and be highly respected.”
She said it is hard to believe the allegations that Bhardwaj discriminated against someone or made them uncomfortable because of the open environment of his classes. She described Bhardwaj’s classes as being like A.A. meetings for African American Studies.
Brown said she felt like Bhardwaj brought a “new aspect” to African American studies beyond just African Americans being vocal on the issues they face.
“He’s gone through so many things, the struggle to even become a professor based on personal things that happened with his family and was still able to prevail and become a professor,” she said.
She said the university’s decision to remove Bhardwaj feels like a “stolen legacy.”
“He has like a gravitational ability,” Brown said. “Previous students came out to support him not being fired. You can really see the reputation he has among students and people he taught.”
Wu said he feels surprised and saddened by Bhardwaj’s departure.
“It’s sad knowing that there will be thousands of students missing out on experiencing a Dr. B class,” Wu said. “I think it’s a little weird that his dismissal from the school was so sudden and kind of kept under wraps, especially for such a popular teacher.”
Brown said she finds Bhardwaj’s dismissal especially shocking given the unusually large amount of support he has from the student body.
“Over 5,000 students have posted on websites like ‘Rate My Professor.’ There’s just been this outpouring of support for him,” she said. “That doesn’t really ever happen for a professor, it’s kind of crazy. I’m just really disappointed that we don’t know full story or reasons. I feel it’s unfair.”