University of Delaware cuts ties with professor who said Warmbier 'deserved' to die

A University of Delaware professor won't have a place at the school in the future because of comments she made in the wake of an American's death upon his return from North Korea.

Kathy Dettwyler, an adjunct professor of anthropology, was the subject of intense backlash after she posted on her personal Facebook page that Otto Warmbier "deserved" to die after being taken into custody by North Korea, falling into a coma and dying. The comments went viral.

UD released a statement Sunday which said Dettwyler "will not be rehired to teach at the University in the future." Dettwyler was not a member of the faculty when she made her inflammatory comments.

Adjunct professors work on contract by semester. She was employed by UD in the spring but was not teaching summer classes.

“Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved," Dettwyler posted on her Facebook page, which since has been taken down or made private.

"These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn't think they'd really have to read and study the material to get a good grade... His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it's Ottos' parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives."

Dettwyler made similar remarks in the comments section of an article published by the National Review. Thousands shared the story on social media and many said they would not be sending their children to UD because of Dettwyler's comments.

The university started distancing itself from Dettwyler as fallout over her comments fallout grew.

"The comments of Katherine Dettwyler do not reflect the values or position of the University of Delaware. We condemn any and all messages that endorse hatred and convey insensitivity toward a tragic event such as the one that Otto Warmbier and his family suffered," read a statement issued last week.

"The University of Delaware values respect and civility and we are committed to global education and study abroad; therefore we find these comments particularly distressing and inconsistent with our values. Our sympathies are with the Warmbier family."

But asked to comment on potential disciplinary action last week, university spokesperson Andrea Boyle said, "We are not able to comment on the specifics of her employment. Personnel matters are confidential."

Warmbier was a University of Virgina student visiting North Korea, where he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel. He suffered a neurological injury and went into a coma.

He was returned to the United States in that condition and died June 18.

Dettwyler said on Facebook Warmbier was "typical of a mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes."

The News Journal reached her by email last week, but she had no comment.

Contact Adam Duvernay at aduvernay@delawareonline.com or (302) 324-2785.

USA Today


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