The Curious Case of Prof. Buchanan

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By Dayne Sherman

Louisiana higher education has been cut by $750 million and is arguably the state with the worst budget cuts in America.


In addition, Louisiana has more schools on the American Association of University Professors Censure List than any other state. The disgraced schools include LSU, Southern, SLU, Nicholls, and Northwestern.


Recently, Dr. Teresa Buchanan, an associate professor of education at LSU, was fired. In short, she was accused of using profanity on occasion. Despite never receiving a poor work evaluation in almost 20 years, and not being told exactly when and where and what she said that was so objectionable, and the administration using dubious anonymous student comments to substantiate their witch hunt, she was terminated.


Oh, I failed to mention that the faculty hearing committee said she had done nothing to warrant dismissal, despite the salty language. They called for remediation not termination.


This story, however, is a part of a bigger myth. Some say college professors and K-12 teachers are rarely fired. That’s baloney.


I know dozens and dozens of professors: tenured, tenure track, and instructors that were fired. A few were fired through the formal process, while most others were told to resign (retire) or face termination. I also know hundreds fired by “layoffs.” Not dozens but hundreds. It is constant and very common. Few fight it. They give up and move on, which is often smart.


Typically, only tenured professors have access to any due process. Tenure track, lecturers, instructors, staff, and adjuncts are at-will employees with no protection unless they are discriminated against for First Amendment or EEOC-protected reasons (For example, a Jewish woman being fired for speaking out against campus crime would be illegal, tenure or no tenure.).


Of course, the victims have to sue—a tall order because the institutions will spend a half a million dollars in state money to fight the suit. Remember LSU’s Ivor Van Heerden after Hurricane Katrina?


In higher education, folks are often given the old “two letter treatment”: sign this letter and willingly resign, or we’ll give you another letter of termination. Most people choose the former, and Human Resources forbids the staff from talking about the departure. Hence, the silence.


Right now, I am not proud that my graduate degree is housed in the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education, which is headed by Dean Damon P.S. Andrew. The college is a joke, and it harms the reputation of LSU as a whole.


At the end of the day, I believe LSU will not prevail in firing Dr. Buchanan. There’s more to it than what is on the surface, more than one person saying a few salty words.


To join the fight, speak up, and if you are able, please send a check to Professor Michael Homan, Treasurer, Louisiana State Conference AAUP, 215 S. Alexander Street, New Orleans, LA 70119. Make checks out to: The LA AAUP. On the memo line write: “Teresa Buchanan Legal Fund (Academic Freedom).”


Together, we can beat this silly attack on Dr. Buchanan, LSU, and Louisiana.


Note: Photo of Dr. Buchanan and sons.


Dayne Sherman is the author of the novels Zion and Welcome to the Fallen Paradise, both $2.99 ebooks. Signed first editions are available from the author. And he does not speak for any of his employers. Neither does he speak for the AAUP or any other group.

Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker


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