A Northwestern Nazarene University (NNU) professor whose pro-evolution views made him a controversial figure in his field will keep his job—technically—the NNU board of trustees announced Friday.
Tenured theology professor Thomas Oord received a letter in April stating that his position had been eliminated because of low enrollment and financial constraints.
Some of Oord's supporters have argued that the professor was targeted for his pro-evolution views that made him a controversial figure in his field. Others accepted NNU's explanation but worried about the implications for tenure generally if a "model academic" could lose his job over enrollment fluctuations.
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Supporters of Oord protested the move, prompting the NNU administration to pause the layoff and accompanying budget changes while it reviewed them. They released their decision Friday.
Oord was reinstated—but only to part-time status and only in the online, graduate theology program. After three years, he "will cease employment with the university," reads the statement.
Oord responded in a statement and video posted to his website late Friday. He will not leave the church and hopes to be employed at another university, he says. Oord also thanks the "literally hundreds of former students and colleagues who sent notes explaining how my life has made a positive difference."
The board says their move met the standards of NNU's faculty policy manual and fell within the president's authority to make.
Stacy Berggren, NNU's VP of enrollment and marketing, says she believes the administration performed due diligence (Moseley, Idaho Press-Tribune, 6/27).
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