COLLEGE
01/14/2011 02:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Edward Feldman, UC Davis Professor, Asked Students How To Grade New Mother

A UC Davis professor has come under fire for asking his students to vote on the grade of student who gave birth near to the semester's start, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Chair of the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Edward Feldman garnered widespread condemnation when an e-mail sent out by the third year class presidents on his behalf was published on On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess, a blog which explores challenges faced by women in the sciences. Blogger Isis posted the e-mail, which asked the new mother's peers to help Dr. Feldman decide how to grade her in light of pending absences (excerpts below):

Dear Colleagues,

One of our classmates recently gave birth and will be out of class for an unknown period of time...Below are listed the options that Dr. Feldman has suggested. Please reserve comment on these options and provide us your opinion on them by voting when the time comes. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

a) automatic A final grade
b) automatic B final grade
c) automatic C final grade
d) graded the same as everyone else: best 6 quiz scores out of a possible 7 quiz scores (each quiz only given only once in class with no repeats)
e) just take a % of quiz scores (for example: your classmate takes 4 quizzes, averages 9/10 points = 90% = A)
f) give that student a single final exam at the end of the quarter (however this option is only available to this one student, all others are graded on the best 6 quiz scores and the % that results)

Please let us know if you have other thoughts on how to handle this situation and please keep your eye out for the upcoming vote.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Your Presidents

When Isis asked Feldman to comment on the story, he said: "I have no comment on the email you received which was to be sent only to members of the UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, current 3rd year class."

And when Isis reached out to a university official (who asked to be quoted anonymously), she was told that while the manner with which Feldman handled the issue was suspect, the issue became more complicated than it might appear: "Within a professional school that has a very intensive and lock-step curriculum, there are many issues to consider in these circumstances."

But school chancellor Linda Katehi had a stronger reaction. She told Inside Higher Ed:

"I take very seriously any allegations that a student's welfare, dignity or academic rights have in any way been compromised" adding that she planned on investigating the situation, and that if the allegations were true she was prepared to take "swift and appropriate action."

What do you think of this? Let us know what you think comments section -- and check out "On Becoming..." for the full text of the e-mail.