University investigating instructor Alberto Haces stemming from September student complaint

Biochemistry instructor Alberto Haces is now under investigation by the university and is no longer teaching after telling a student to either come take the exam or drop the class following the death of her husband.


A screenshot of Haces during instruction. Video provided by anonymous student.

Justine Kantor, Contributing Writer

The university is investigating what happened between biochemistry instructor Alberto Haces and a student who believes he treated her insensitively by telling her to either take an exam, to drop his course, or to take an incomplete in the wake of her husband’s death.

On Sept. 13, two days before she was set to take a biochemistry exam, biology major Briana Gabriel lost her husband to pneumonia.

Gabriel emailed her instructor, Alberto Haces, explaining her situation. Haces responded with the two options Gabriel could choose from if she felt she could not take the test—taking an incomplete in the class or dropping the course altogether.

She ultimately decided to take the test, given her options.

According to Haces’ syllabus, he will automatically drop the lowest of three exams from each student’s grade.

The syllabus also states that:

“If the student presents a legitimate, documented reason for missing the exam… a make-up exam might be considered.”

The UP reached out to Joshua Glanzer, the associate vice president for Media Relations and Public Affairs for the university, who responded in an email:

Dr. Alberto Haces, a senior instructor at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Photo courtesy of FAU.

“We are aware of the concerns that have been raised in a previous article regarding Professor Haces. The concerns have been referred to the appropriate offices for investigation consistent with university regulations and policies. FAU is unable to comment further on this pending personnel matter.”

Many of Haces’ students declined to comment on the situation due to the investigation.

However, a few of his students confirmed privately to the UP that he is no longer teaching the Biochemistry course.

Haces’ termination has not been confirmed by school officials.

The only information the UP could obtain regarding his employment status was from Human Resources. They confirmed that Haces was still employed as of Nov. 10.

When the UP reached out to Haces for comment on Nov. 6, he responded in an email, hinting at what could be his pending exit.

“I have taught for 18 years at FAU… and this is not the way I envisioned my departure. I have dozens of emails of good students who kept in touch with me over the years,” he wrote in an email on Nov. 8.

“Many are now professionals who value my teachings and my fairness. That is my legacy, not a yellow journalism pamphlet article,” Haces said.

A student sent the UP a seven-minute recording of Haces’ lecture from mid-October, soon after the first article regarding Haces was published.

After instructing students in his class to read the UP article, he said, “There is some comments from students from this classroom, basically badmouthing me.”

In the recording, he then moved on to discuss Briana Gabriel, the student whose husband passed away.

After she ultimately decided to come in and take the exam, Haces recalled stating to her, “I don’t know what you are doing here, because normally when I’m mourning and I’m sad, I don’t do this type of thing.” In Haces’ recollection of the incident, he said he would allow her to make up the test.

Finally, he revealed his plan to sue the University Press. “I will have to sue [because] they are giving me no other choice. They’re giving me no choice. So, I’m going to sue. I’m getting lawyers to sue the— okay?” he said.

The UP checked the clerk of courts system in both Palm Beach and Broward County and Haces has not filed any lawsuits against the school.

One student, who did not want to be quoted directly, mentioned a high level of tension between students and described the class as hostile since the instructor left.

Classmates are making accusations about who emailed the dean and students are no longer using the class group chat.

Not all of the students are unanimously upset with Haces.

A few came to his defense in the comment section of the article about him on the UP website.

“His syllabus was clear as day, it is unfortunate that her husband died, but the rules are very clear and he is being fair to everyone,” commented someone under the name Marcelo.

Another comment, posted under the name Dylan, recognizes Haces as a valuable professor.

“Haces is one of the good ones. FAU would be a poorer place without him.”

A student who is believed to be in the same class as Brianna Gabriel asked to remain anonymous but was able to confirm Haces’ departure.

“He is no longer teaching. We now have Dr. Du, the biochem 2 professor [who] teaches biochem 1 as well.”

Deguo Du is a professor with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of our December/January issue titled “Unfinished Business,” which you can pick up on campus or read online here.

Justine Kantor is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].