College Guide


December 19, 2011 5:21 PM James Franco, NYU “Student”

By Daniel Luzer


James Franco, the Hollywood star turned pseudo-academic, is apparently causing some trouble at New York University, where he recently took graduate courses in filmmaking.

One former NYU professor alleges (gasp) that the university was totally willing to let Franco do virtually no academic work because of the celebrity cache he gave the school and its graduate program. According to an article by Jamie Schram and Frank Rosario in the New York Post:

Jose Angel Santana said he slapped the “127 Hours’’ star with the bad grade because he missed 12 of his 14 “Directing the Actor II” classes while pursuing a master’s in fine arts.
“The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that’s for sure,” Santana, 58, told The Post. “The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco.”

He also argues that he was fired because he gave Franco a D in his class.

This last part seems a little difficult to believe. Someone willing to go to all of this trouble to openly shame someone no one thought was a real student probably didn’t exactly play well with others during his time as visiting assistant arts professor.

Sure, NYU isn’t all that happy with Santana’s calling Franco out, but it I find it unlikely Franco’s D was the only thing Santana did to annoy the administration.

Santana is suing NYU in Manhattan Supreme Court. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Crissa on December 19, 2011 6:06 PM:

    ...Exactly what sort of circular logic do you imply that a professor shouldn't mention the reason he was fired if it wasn't for a just cause?

  • Daniel on December 19, 2011 6:24 PM:

    1. Never said he shouldn't do it; it just indicates some poor judgment.

    2. He's not "mentioning the reason"; he's suing the university.

    3. That's unlikely the actual reason his contract wasn't renewed; it's just the story most likely to generate public response and a payout from NYU.

    4. He was a visiting assistant professor. NYU can not renew his contract for any number of reasons, or not explain why at all.

  • aggie bee on December 20, 2011 7:12 AM:

    The scandal here is how *any* student can miss 12 of 14 classes & *not* receive an "F." In my university classes (been teaching 20 years), the max. a student can miss & still receive a passing grade is 20% of classes.

    Don't know what experience Daniel has with contingent teaching, but it is *totally* believable a contingent faculty would not be rehired based on an influential student's grade challenge/complaint. I've even seen administrators *change final grades* without the instructor's consent & with no formal hearing.

  • Scu on December 21, 2011 12:25 PM:

    In James Franco's defense, one of his Yale professors praises his dedication to the reading and being responsible to making meetings.

    Of course, the type of course being describe by this professor is entirely different from the showing up to class most courses require. Still, it certainly presents a far more studious image of Franco.