LAS CRUCES – Days after receiving an award for teaching excellence, a business professor at New Mexico State University has been removed from his classroom at the start of the fall semester.
David Clements, an assistant professor of finance at NMSU’s College of Business, posted video of an introductory lecture in which he announced that he would not be enforcing or following the university’s COVID-19 policies on mask use or vaccines.
Clements posted the video to Rumble, a social media platform with a strong following among conservatives and libertarians as a rival to YouTube. His channel purportedly has 26,000 online followers.
“As you can see, I am not wearing a mask,” he tells students in the video. “Why is that? Because I haven’t lost my mind, that’s why. I will not wear a mask.”
He also said he would refuse the required COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for the disease.
“Whether you want to wear a mask in my class is between you and God,” he tells the class, promising the course will be available online as an alternative. “You signed up for a face-to-face class and I’m going to teach a face-to-face class.”
On Monday, Clements posted on Telegram, a messaging app and social media platform, claiming his resistance to the policies led to him being relieved of his teaching responsibilities for “gross misconduct,” and the removal of professor James Hoffman as dean of the business college.
The university announced Monday that Hoffman would return to teaching full-time and named professor Mary Jo Billiot as acting dean. Billiot is a professor of accounting, and an interim associate dean for finance and research at the business college.
Citing confidential personnel matters, NMSU spokesman Justin Bannister did not reveal any reason for the switch and would not comment on Clements’ status, except to confirm that he remains an employee of the university.
Clements did not respond to queries sent via his personal website.
On Telegram, Clements stated that Hoffman “was ordered by the university to come to my morning class and see if I was complying with the mask mandate. … He asserted his strong belief in the exercise of free speech. He then left me to teach my class.”
While the university states that Clements remains an employee, an online fundraiser on Clements’ behalf claims he was “fired for standing up.”
The fundraiser was initiated by Joe Oltmann, founder of the conservative political group FEC United and a promoter of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the campaign had raised more than $200,000 in donations.