NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers University removed a professor accused of posting anti-Semitic statements on Facebook from his position as a director at the New Jersey school.
Michael Chikindas will no longer serve as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said Friday. The tenured food science professor was also barred from teaching required courses and will take cultural sensitivity training courses.
Barchi called the situation "sad and deeply troubling." He said the university is seeking further disciplinary action against the professor through the faculty union.
Chikindas shared over a period of several months anti-Semitic cartoons along with conspiracy posts that claimed 9/11 was orchestrated by Jews, according to university administrators. Officials said Chikindas also referred to first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, as "sluts."
Administrators said the posts "perpetuated toxic stereotypes" and were upsetting to Jewish students and staff at the university. The professor will be subject to ongoing monitoring "if and when" he returns to teaching, Barchi said.
Chikindas claimed his account was hacked and denied the posts were anti-Semitic. He previously told NJ.com he does not identify himself as an anti-Semite.
"It is my lifelong credo that all people are born equal regardless of their ethnicity, religion and wealth," the professor said in October.
The nonprofit Israel education organization StandWithUs praised the university for taking action against Chikindas. The organization said the university "did the right thing in the end."
Chikindas joined the university as a professor in 1998. He became tenured in 2007.