DURHAM, N.C.—When Professor Salisbury began the 2023 Fall Semester, he made sure to set his students’ expectations with a minor change to his syllabus. Nestled between the Course Expectations and the Weekly Schedule was an unexpected piece of information – a doctor’s diagnosis of his early-onset dementia. “I was shocked that Dr. Salisbury was so open with us,” said Carlos Priato (Pratt ‘26).
Salisbury reports he shared his dementia diagnosis to make his students feel more comfortable. “I just can’t keep my students straight anymore. I didn’t want them to think I was racist.”
Priato and others have reported numerous instances of Salisbury’s confusion. Beyond mixing up students in the classroom, Salisbury often sends emails and papers to the wrong students. “At this point we just have a big GroupMe,” explains Priato. “We drop all our returned assignments there so folks can figure it out for themselves.”
Some have raised eyebrows at how Salisbury only ever confuses non-white students. When questioned, Salisbury points to his dementia diagnosis. The medical record, signed by Mike Realdoctor, MD, explains how Salisbury’s unique condition specifically targets the regions of the brain that recognize the faces of anyone who is not blonde. Salisbury, who at twenty-seven is one of the youngest people ever diagnosed with dementia, informed us Dr. Realdoctor is unavailable to comment because he “is busy.”
When asked if his diagnosis has affected the way he treats his LGBTQ+ students, Salisbury stated that he has not had any issues. “I refuse to use students’ requested pronouns, but that’s not because of my cognitive impairment – I’m just a bigot.”