Sep 07, 2011 | Comments 23
Dear Readers of ARPTalk,
Below is a copy of an e-mail that Bill Crenshaw posted on the AFE site today, and I have also been informed that he posted it on the “closed” AFIE site last night. The post is a copy of an e-mail letter that was sent to President David Norman from the AAUP.
American Association of University Professors Academic Freedom for a Free Society September 6, 2011 VIA ELECTRONIC AND U.S. MAIL Dr. David A. Norman President Erskine College P.O. Box 308 Due West, South Carolina 29639 .
Dear President Norman:
Dr. William B. Crenshaw, a tenured full professor and holder of an endowed chair in the Department of English with thirty-five years of service at Erskine College, has advised this Association of your August 12 letter notifying him of his immediate suspension with pay from his academic responsibilities pending the outcome of dismissal proceedings. Professor Crenshaw has informed us that he has been denied access to his office and to his college e-mail account. We understand that the letter was sent after Professor Crenshaw declined to accept an early-retirement agreement which would have paid him his salary through August 2013.
Assuming the accuracy of the information in our possession, we are writing to advise you that this action is unacceptable under the enclosed 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the complementary 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings (also enclosed). We note that the procedures for dismissal set forth in pages 35-36 of the Erskine College faculty manual are essentially consistent with the key provisions of the 1958 Statement.
One of those provisions, which the faculty manual incorporates almost verbatim, is the following: “Suspension of a faculty member during the [dismissal] proceedings is justified only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by the faculty member’s continuance.”
In an August 21 e-mail message to you, Professor Crenshaw questioned the basis of the suspension “because,” he wrote, “your documents have never indicated that you considered me a harm to myself or others. . . . ” You responded on August 23:
“Immediate harm to yourself or others would be threatened by your continuance. The reasons for this were set out in my letter to you dated August 12, 2011. There is one reason in particular that I would like to call to your attention. The College cannot permit you to hold your position on an active basis and while doing so [permit you to] encourage people to quit donating to Erskine and to quit sending their kids to Erskine.”
As far as we can ascertain, the August 12 letter did not ascribe any bases for Professor Crenshaw’s suspension, much less a perceived threat of immediate harm, and the reason given on August 23, even if true (Professor Crenshaw sharply contests its accuracy), hardly seems to involve an imminent threat to anyone’s safety or well-being, though its being employed as a basis for the suspension does lend additional credence to Professor Crenshaw’s claim that the actions taken against him were based on considerations that violate his academic freedom. In addition, since by your own account Professor Crenshaw’s allegedly “disloyal” speech occurred in an online forum, suspending him from his faculty responsibilities will clearly do nothing to prevent further such expressions.
We find it puzzling, moreover, that the same faculty member who, according to your August 9 proffer of early retirement, is “leaving Erskine in good standing” and whose “many contributions over the years are greatly appreciated” should by August 12 become such a danger that you would be compelled to suspend him immediately.
An administration’s action to suspend a professor from service, absent threat of immediate harm, is a matter of basic concern to our Association. We urge that the suspension be lifted, that Professor Crenshaw’s access to his office and to the campus e-mail system be restored, and that any subsequent action be consistent with the above-cited procedural standards. We look forward to your response.
Sincerely,Gregory F. Scholtz, Associate Secretary and Director Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance Enclosures cc: Mr. Joe Patrick, Chair, Board of Trustees The Rev. Andrew K. Putnam, Moderator of the General Synod of the ARPC Dr. Norton Bradley Christie, Interim Vice President and Dean of the College Professor Brooks Kuykendall, Faculty Chair Professor Larry Watson, President, South Carolina Conference AAUP Professor William B. Crenshaw
I have five points.
First, it is gratifying to see that the stipulations of the deal that was offered to Crenshaw are about what I surmised. It certainly was a good deal. It’s a pity that Crenshaw violated confidence and broke the deal. Indeed, it was a good deal.
Two, look up the American Association of University Professors. It’s an “I-want-to-be-a-professors’-union-and-just-can’t-make-the-grade” organization. The AAUP is like a piss ant’s sting, or a mosquito bite on a blue whale. It’s annoying but not much more! Since 1963 the AAUP has had a ban on Grove City College (a Christian College in Pennsylvania). Now, look up Grove City College. Has the AAUP’s ban on Grove City College hurt the college’s growth or influence? To God that Erskine was as healthy as Grove City College!!!
Three, as of this afternoon, Dr. Norman has sent out two e-mails. The first was sent to Crenshaw that informed him that his employment at Erskine had been terminated. The second e-mail was distributed to the Erskine community and it informed them that Crenshaw was no longer an employee of Erskine College. For the last couple of months, Crenshaw has made an art form out of insubordination to and the bullying and insulting of Dr. Norman. Crenshaw’s past antics do not work with this brave young president. Crenshaw got what he wanted and deserved.
Four, what is Crenshaw going to do now? Does anyone want to wager with me that he doesn’t take this to court? So, how is Crenshaw going to pay the fees of his attorneys? Well, how were the attorneys’ fees paid for Chesnut, Taylor, and Young? What is the EC Foundation going to do with the “war chest” of money that they have? BTW, does anyone know how to find out what a 501.c.3 does with its money? Someone needs to look into what the EC Foundation is doing with the thousands of dollars that have recently been donated to the foundation this year. Is it kosher for a 501.c.3 (that was founded to provide scholarships at Erskine College) to pay attorneys’ fees so that a former Erskine employee can sue the college in civil court?
Five, I call on all ARPs and all evangelical Christians who love righteousness to stand with President David Norman. We have asked this young man to do the right things. He is a man of courage and integrity. We should stand with him! Indeed, God help us to stand with him!
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