The American Association of University Professors has threatened to take unspecified action against Louisiana State University over its dismissal of a tenured faculty member accused of using obscene language and making sexually explicit jokes in class.
In a letter on Tuesday to F. King Alexander, the university system’s president, the AAUP demanded that it reconsider its decision last month to fire Teresa K. Buchanan, a tenured associate professor of curriculum and instruction, based on accusations of misconduct. The association said it wanted to “convey our deepest concerns, indeed our sense of outrage,” that Mr. Alexander and the system’s board had moved to dismiss Ms. Buchanan even though a faculty panel that heard her case unanimously recommended that she be kept in her job.
Ms. Buchanan’s dismissal occurred after the university’s human-resources office accused her of committing sexual harassment and violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. The faculty panel found no evidence substantiating the accusation that she had violated the ADA by discussing a student’s attention-deficit disorder in class, and said she did not deserve to be dismissed for sexual harassment based on complaints that she had used profanity and poorly worded or sexually explicit jokes as part of her teaching method, the AAUP’s letter says.
The letter — from Jordan E. Kurland, the AAUP’s associate general secretary — notes that even before Ms. Buchanan’s dismissal, Louisiana State was under censure by the association for previous violations of AAUP principles in its dealings with faculty members, and talks between Mr. Alexander and the AAUP over lifting the censure have broken down.
In reference to the termination of Ms. Buchanan, Mr. Kurland’s letter says: “I’ll refrain from concluding with comments on how distant the LSU administration has placed itself from the mainstream of our secular research universities by dismissing a professor for misconduct simply for having used language that is not only run of the mill these days for much of the academic community but is also protected under principles of academic freedom.”