A physics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno gave a memo to his students Monday in which he asserted that “powerful, higher up administrators” were seeking to have him fired.
This memo was later posted to social media, where it proceeded to go viral.
Most incidents of this nature would be considered trivial, but this one was far different due to the identity of the professor. The professor in question was Dr. Friedwardt Winterberg, who confirmed the authenticity of the document.
Dr. Winterberg has an impressive resume to say the least. He received his M.S. in Physics in 1952 at the University of Frankfurt, Germany.
He then earned a Ph.D. in Physics in 1955 under Dr. Werner Heisenberg at the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany. Dr. Winterberg was regarded as one of four of Dr. Heisenberg’s notable students. This is of note due to the fact that prior to teaching at the Max Planck Institute, Dr. Heisenberg had taken a leading role in Nazi Germany’s nuclear research team.
After his education, Dr. Winterberg launched an impressive professional career which included: laying the groundwork for the Global Positioning System (GPS), writing 260 single author papers and two books, coming up with novel ideas on nuclear rocket propulsion that are “expected to make it possible” to send astronauts to Mars, and coming up with a “defense of planet earth against the impact of asteroids.”
Dr. Winterberg has been apart of the University’s faculty since 1963, and has been a tenured professor since 1966. When asked about what he believed to be the reasoning behind his alleged potential dismissal, he cited two possibilities: age and being naturally critical.
“Sometimes I say things people don’t like to hear, and that’s why people don’t like me… because I like to criticize,” Dr. Winterberg said.
When questioned on whether he believes either of these affected his ability to teach, he responded with a resounding denial.
“I like working with students,” he said. “I would like to give my knowledge to the students while I can. I feel as if I owe it to the United States, since they brought me here, to give back to them.”
The University of Nevada, Reno has not released a statement in response to the now viral memo.
However, when asked for comment, Natalie Fry, a Senior Communications Specialist for the University said that the University is “aware of the social media post and the traction it has received.” However, “this is a personnel matter and not something the University will discuss further.”
This story is ongoing.