• Lieberman’s now-deleted post referred to Gatwech as a 'freak of nature'
  • He is recognized as a leading national psychiatrist and schizophrenia specialist
  • Columbia University’s acting director said they condemn the 'racism and sexism' in Lieberman’s tweet

Columbia University’s chair of the Department of Psychiatry Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman was suspended Wednesday following a now-deleted tweet that referred to an American model of South Sudanese descent as a “freak of nature.”

“Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold,” Lieberman wrote on his Twitter page, referring to a photo of model Nyakim Gatwech.

A spokesperson for Columbia University told The New York Times that Lieberman was removed as psychiatrist-in-chief at the university’s Irving Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Lieberman is recognized as a leading U.S. psychiatrist and is a specialist in schizophrenia. Following his reaction to Gatwech’s photo, his colleagues took to Twitter to condemn his comments.

University of Pennsylvania medical student and postdoctoral fellow Elle Lett argued that Lieberman “is the CHAIR of @ColumbiaPsych.” In the Twitter thread, Lett questioned, “How can someone in that field be unaware of the psychological toll such stigmatizing language can have for the individual, and community of people who they belong to?”

In an email to fellow faculty members Wednesday, Thomas Smith, the acting director at Columbia University, said that “we condemn racism and sexism reflected in Dr. Lieberman’s tweet and acknowledge and share the hurt, sadness, confusion, and distressing emotions you may be feeling,” The Hill reported.

The multi-awarded psychiatry leader has resigned as executive director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the Times reported. The Columbia website still lists Lieberman as one of its psychiatry experts, with its column on Lieberman noting that “he is the recipient of many national and international honors and awards,” including the Neuroscience Award from the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Lieberman’s suspension came weeks after Ilya Shapiro, Georgetown Law’s Center for the Constitution incoming administrator, was placed on leave due to tweets that said in part President Joe Biden’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court would result in a “lesser black woman as the nominee,” NBC News reported.

Shapiro was the former vice president and director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cata Institute.

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor said Shapiro had to be placed on leave pending an investigation into whether his comments violated school policies and expectations of an administrator’s supposed professional conduct.

Columbia University
Columbia University says it can no longer administer a scholarship created in 1920 that stipulates that all recipients be Caucasians from Iowa. Reuters