Dr. Mark Tykocinski has stepped down as the president of Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University following scrutiny over his activity on social media. Several months ago, he faced criticism for “liking” tweets that were critical of COVID vaccines and transgender surgeries for children.
According to an email sent to the university community by Jefferson CEO Joseph G. Cacchione, Dr. Mark Tykocinski is stepping down from his position as president of Thomas Jefferson University to concentrate on his research and clinical translation endeavors.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that despite Tykocinski’s resignation from the presidency, he will continue to serve as a full professor.
The Inquirer pointed out that Cacchione’s announcement did not make any mention of Tykocinski’s Twitter activity.
According to the paper, several employees and students expressed relief over Tykocinski’s resignation due to their concerns about his tweet likes.
A medical school student, who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution, told the Inquirer that Tykocinski’s resignation was one of the desired outcomes they had hoped for.
As per an April 29 article in the Inquirer, it was reported that Tykocinski had used his Twitter account to “like” tweets that questioned the science behind COVID-19 vaccines, labeled gender reassignment surgery as “child mutilation” and expressed criticism towards diversity offices on college campuses, among other contentious subjects.
At that time, the paper revealed that Tykocinski had “liked” almost 30 tweets from Alex Berenson within the last year. The Inquirer referred to Berenson as “the pandemic’s wrongest man” in a previous report.
In a subsequent report, the Inquirer mentioned that Cacchione sent a message to faculty, employees, and students, expressing his disapproval of Tykocinski’s “careless use” of Twitter. Cacchione emphasized that, at his level, Tykocinski should have been aware of the higher standard expected of him.
In response, Berenson took to Twitter, stating that “academic freedom is dead.” Twitter CEO Elon Musk also weighed in, labeling the school’s reaction as “absurd.”
The president of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia may be about to lose his job. Dr. Mark Tykocinski is a 70-year-old immunologist with an spotless academic record.
His crime appears to be liking my tweets.
Academic freedom is dead.https://t.co/nDEu339Txk
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) May 1, 2023
In a statement to the Inquirer, Tykocinski explained that he had “liked” the tweets in question as a means of bookmarking them to further explore the subject matter or gain insights into different viewpoints.
He went on to say, “What I did not understand was that by liking a tweet, it could be interpreted as an endorsement of the thought expressed or the person expressing it. I certainly had no intention of endorsing the content of individual tweets or the person tweeting. I regret my lack of understanding of how ‘liking’ a tweet is an implied endorsement. I also regret how my lack of understanding of the Twitter platform caused some to question my views on these complex issues.”
A Jefferson spokesperson informed the Inquirer that the college planned to seize this opportunity as a “teaching moment” to emphasize the “prudent use of social media.”