Joseph E Steinmetz stepped down from his position as the chancellor of the University of Arkansas (UA) after questionable photos of him surfaced on Twitter.
Steinmetz did not give a reason for his resignation. However, he later wrote that while he still “strongly believed in the mission of higher education,” there were also “many challenges found trying to manage a university in today’s polarized society.”
“I need to do what’s best for my family and I feel ready to make way for others,” he concluded.
He resigned only hours after a special meeting held by the UA Board of Trustees, where members entered an executive session. Typically, this is only done when discussing personnel matters. However, KNWA also reported that board members said there was “no action taken.”
Backlash Over Retaining Fulbright Legacy
Steinmetz recently received backlash over his stance on the legacy of former Senator J. William Fulbright. Senator Fulbright is best known for introducing legislation in 1945 that paved the way for the school’s international education exchange program, which was later named after him.
However, the remembrance of his legacy on the UA campus is being reconsidered because of his legislative record, which showed that he supported segregation and opposed civil rights in the 1950s and 60s.
You’d rather retire early than help reform racist ass symbols at your university. its giving lazy. @JoeSteinmetz
— june twentyfo 🎉 (@simplyjasmeann) June 17, 2021
In a letter to UA President, Donald R Bobbitt, Steinmetz emphasized how the Fulbright name is tied to a “renowned” education program and wrote that it was “appropriate that the Fulbright name remain on the college.”
“I believe it is in the best interest of the university to retain this connection. We cannot and should not erase this history and connection to our campus, primarily for the educational value his presence brings to the campus,” he argued.
.@JoeSteinmetz: “Black students are understandably upset that our arts and science college is named after a fucking segregationist
— dirk kaczynski (@uhohboneralert) May 27, 2021
Steinmetz a Deep Fake Victim?
According to KNWA, there is speculation that Steinmetz may have resigned because the news channel asked the university to look into an online account that contained provocative photos, which appeared to be of the UA chancellor. The account has now been taken down.
Mark Rushing, a spokesperson for the university, denied that the photos are of Steinmetz, telling the channel that it was “an obvious attack” and a “hoax.” According to KNWA, Rushing also presented other examples of deep fake photos to illustrate the dangers of social media and the internet.