The governing body of a national university association voted this week to censure Linfield University following the abrupt dismissal of tenured English professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a student and faculty advocate who had complained about sexual harassment by four university board administrators.
The decision by the American Association of University Teachers, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group of professors and other academic professionals, follows an investigation it conducted that found Linfield fired Pollack-Pelzner without due process and violated the school’s own academic freedom regulations. .
The association appointed a committee of university professors from outside schools who had no prior involvement in the case to investigate the dismissal. The committee concluded in April that the dismissal took place without the university providing the reason for the dismissal during a hearing before a selected group of professors. The university has adopted the recommended national standard that requires such a hearing.
Scott Nelson, associate vice president of Linfield University, said by email that the university strongly disagreed with the findings and the censorship, saying it was based on “information inaccurate and misleading”.
“Linfield University unequivocally supports academic freedom and tenure of faculty. AAUP has no position on our campuses or authority in the matter, and its designation will have no impact on the important work we do to strengthen shared governance, recruit and retain top faculty, and build community. that values and celebrates the perspectives and passions of our increasingly diverse student body,” he said.
Pollack-Pelzner learned of his dismissal on April 27, 2021, when his school-issued laptop suddenly froze during a videoconference and his college email account returned a message saying he was no longer employed by the school.
That afternoon, Linfield Provost Susan Agre-Kippenhan sent a message to the university community saying that Linfield “has taken the extraordinary step of terminating the employment of a member of our faculty for serious breaches of duty of the individual to the institution.
At the time, the university said in a statement that Pollack-Pelzner “deliberately circulated false statements about the university, its employees and its board of trustees”, was insubordinate and “interfered with the administration of its responsibilities by the university”.
The dismissal of Pollack-Pelzner, who began teaching at Linfield in 2010 and held a chair in Shakespeare studies, sparked an international outcry from educational organizations, as well as Linfield students, alumni and faculty. . He is now pursuing college.
Miles K. Davis, president of the university, told The Oregonian/OregonLive last year that the dismissal had nothing to do with Pollack-Pelzner’s academic performance or professional skills, but said he had been terminated as a university employee “for cause”.
The national association began censoring administrations in 1930. Censored schools do not adhere to the principles of academic freedom and occupation endorsed by the group and reflect on its current administration, according to its website. Its statement of principles states that institutions of higher learning are “conducted for the common good, and that the common good depends on the free search for truth and its free expression”.
Among other things, Pollack-Pelzner had criticized the way Linfield and Davis’ chairman of the board responded to complaints of abuse and harassment, including the actions of former Linfield director David Jubb, who was indicted for allegedly groping four college students in 2019 and 2017. Jubb, a member of Linfield of the University board who resigned under fire, was sentenced in October to 18 months probation and ordered to undergo an evaluation for alcohol abuse after pleading no contest to two counts of harassment for groping two students.
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