The Louisiana State University system’s Board of Supervisors voted last week to uphold the firing of Teresa Buchanan, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction, based on accusations she had engaged in sexual harassment and violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
F. King Alexander, the system’s president, had called for Ms. Buchanan’s dismissal even though a faculty panel that he had appointed to hear her case concluded that the ADA charges against her were unsubstantiated and that she did not deserve to lose her job over the sexual-harassment charges. The latter allegations stemmed mainly from complaints that she had used obscene language in front of students and had spoken disparagingly to them about the sex lives of married people at a time when she was going through a divorce.
Ms. Buchanan’s termination occurred as the Baton Rouge campus entered its third year under censure from the American Association of University Professors for its treatment of other faculty members, and at a time when colleges’ efforts to protect students are bumping up against professors’ free-speech and due-process rights.
The association took steps last year to reconsider the campus’s censure status, but Henry F. (Hank) Reichman, chairman of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, announced at the group’s annual meeting this month that LSU had ceased trying to come into compliance with the association’s standards.
Sometimes it seems like the entire state of Louisiana has ceased trying to come into compliance with anything (see its unwillingness to allow gay marriage, even in light of yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling) or to support any state employees in any way. We posted an anonymous piece recently by a Louisiana Tech instructor, who wrote:
At Louisiana Tech, instructors and adjuncts (who outnumber the professors) carry most of the teaching load, and are paid poorly for it. Most professor pay is low as well. Tech professors and instructors are paid far below the national level. Over 90% of the professors and instructors in the U.S. are paid more than LA Tech professors and instructors. With only one small pay raise since 2008, our low pay has not kept up with inflation. We get poorer, even as our work load increases (some departments have seen a 30% decrease in faculty, while student enrollment has increased).
So, not only is the state ignoring rights of tenure and Supreme Court rulings, but it sees no reason to compensate the very people best positioned to help make, in the words of former governor and senator (and still state hero) Huey Long, “every man a king.”