U. of Delaware Condemns Adjunct’s Posts That Said Otto Warmbier ‘Got Exactly What He Deserved’

The University of Delaware has condemned an adjunct faculty member’s messages on Facebook and elsewhere online that strongly criticized Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who died last Monday after being held captive in North Korea for 17 months.

The faculty member, Katherine A. Dettwyler, is an adjunct lecturer in anthropology at the university. She posted her remarks — which have since been taken down — on her personal Facebook page and in a comment thread on National Review article scolding “the hateful Left” for its response to Mr. Warmbier’s death. “Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?” Ms. Dettwyler asked. “I’ve spent my life teaching folks just like Otto … and Otto is typical of the mind-set of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes.”

Ms. Dettwyler’s Facebook posts were first highlighted by Campus Reform, the conservative news site that spots controversial statements by professors, often kickstarting a process through which those statements become national causes célèbres. The university’s Facebook page was soon inundated with complaints and calls for Ms. Dettwyler to be fired.

A university spokeswoman declined to respond to those calls, telling the Wilmington News Journal that “personnel matters are confidential.” But in a statement released on Friday, the university described Ms. Dettwyler’s comments as “particularly distressing and inconsistent with our values.”

“The comments of Katherine Dettwyler do not reflect the values or position of the University of Delaware,” the statement read. “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.”

Return to Top