Mikhail Molchanov, St. Thomas University professor

Mikhail Molchanov has been a professor at St. Thomas University since 2003. (Courtesy of St. Thomas University)

A professor at St. Thomas University has been pulled from his teaching duties after an alleged in-class verbal exchange with a student last week led to an investigation by the administration.

Mikhail Molchanov has been a professor at the university since 2003 and is chair of the political science department.

Student Lindsey MacKay says she won't soon forget the class in question.

MacKay says a fellow student cracked a joke, saying Molchanov could be a political stand-up comedian, and the professor responded by questioning whether the student had a mental disability and suggesting he should go see a physician.

Molchanov then kicked the student out of the classroom and made a comment that people like that should be institutionalized, recalled MacKay.

"There was one girl in the class and she was crying a little bit and she raised her hand and she was like, 'He actually does have a mental disability. You shouldn't have done that,'" MacKay said.

8 formal complaints

Molchanov's alleged comments incited eight formal complaints from students, said university spokesman Jeffrey Carleton, adding he does not recall any other classroom incident triggering so many.

"The situation was unacceptable to the university and a new professor has been assigned to that class," Carleton said.

The university won't say when Molchanov will return to his duties, citing privacy issues.

"Anytime we do an investigation, it's under the auspices of the collective agreement and those kinds of details are confidential," said Carleton.

"In this particular process it was a disciplinary procedure. A new professor has been assigned to that class. So the university is satisfied with the results."

Molchanov could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.