Former UC Berkeley mathematics lecturer Alexander Coward announces return to campus

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Former campus mathematics lecturer Alexander Coward announced that he will return to campus to teach math in the College of Engineering’s Pre-Engineering Program, or PREP, for the upcoming summer in a personal Facebook post Friday.

PREP, which runs from July 25 to Aug. 10, provides support for incoming first-year engineering students, according to its website. The College of Engineering contacted Coward asking for recommendations as they searched for an instructor to teach the math portion of the PREP program, according to Coward.

“I think it was really a stroke of good luck,” Coward said in an email. “I offered to do it myself and was thrilled when they said yes.”

From July 2013 to June 2016, Coward was a lecturer in the campus’s math department, according to his CV. In October 2015, however, Coward announced on his personal website that his employment contract had not been renewed by the campus math department and alleged the department had a “practice of systematically removing the best teachers.”

Since his employment was terminated, according to Coward, the former campus lecturer founded EDeeU, the purpose of which is “to allow anyone to validate (their) education … with a structured portfolio of work.” Coward plans on continuing to focus on EDeeU, with a long-term goal of returning to teaching full-time, he said in an email.

Coward’s return to campus is not a re-appointment as a lecturer, according to Coward, and the agreement is only for him to teach for those two-and-a-half weeks.

“While Alexander Coward and the College of Engineering have discussed the possibility that he will work as a math instructor in Engineering’s three-week summer PREP program, the matter is still under review in the university’s regular HR process,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email.

According to an email exchange between Coward and Tiffany Reardon, associate director for Retention Programs at Berkeley Engineering, Coward has submitted paperwork to finalize his employment as “an independent contractor.”

Grace O’Toole, a rising campus junior and former Daily Californian reporter who organized a protest in support of Coward in October 2015, said she was “extremely excited” for Coward’s return to teach for the summer.

“I thought (Coward) was an amazing teacher — he really cared about his students,” O’Toole said. “I’m glad he’s going to be able to be back at Cal.”

Coward wrote in an email he was grateful to the people he met in the College of Engineering and their desire for students’ success.

I can’t wait to be back in the classroom teaching Berkeley’s wonderful students,” Coward said in an email. “Teaching math is my absolute favorite thing to do.”

Contact Bobby Lee and Valerie Hsieh at [email protected].

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