Thomas Jefferson University president Mark Tykocinski has apologized after coming under fire for liking tweets critical of coronavirus vaccines, gender-confirmation surgery and college diversity, equity, and inclusion offices, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week.
Critics told the newspaper that the president’s likes sent “an anti–public health message.” Tykocinski, a molecular immunologist, also serves as dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
Some employees raised concerns that even though the president liked the controversial tweets via his private account, Tykocinski’s Twitter bio clearly identifies him as “President, @jeffersonuniv.”
Tykocinski, 70, told the Inquirer that he used Twitter’s like function to bookmark tweets in order “to learn more about the subject matter or the particular viewpoint.” He added that he did not understand that giving a thumbs-up “could be interpreted as endorsement of the thought expressed or the person expressing it” and that he regrets his “lack of understanding of the Twitter platform.” He also expressed support for coronavirus vaccines and college DEI efforts.
A number of Tykocinski’s likes were of tweets from right-wing figures or organizations, including COVID-19 vaccine skeptic Alex Berenson, Donald Trump Jr. and Libs of TikTok. Both Berenson and Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted in support of Tykocinski this week; Musk wrote, “This is absurd. Shame on the CEO and board of trustees of Thomas Jefferson University!”