Around the industry: University moves to fire Sandy Hook-denying professor

Bite-sized college and higher education industry news

  • Florida: Florida Atlantic University is moving to fire associate professor James Tracy, who claims the Sandy Hook shooting was staged and allegedly harassed the parents of victims. Last week, one child's parents wrote an op-ed in a Florida newspaper naming conspiracy theorists who deny their son's existence and harass them—and Tracy's name appeared on the list. Tracy appears to have written a "Hoax at Sandy Hook" Facebook page a few days later defending his assertions. The university must adhere to dismissal procedures arranged by its faculty union, but a spokesperson says Tracy has been served a "Notice of Proposed Discipline – Termination" (Svrluga, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 12/17).
  • Illinois: Wheaton College has suspended a professor who put on a headscarf to show her solidarity with Muslims and said they and Christians worship the "same God." In a statement Tuesday, leaders said professor Larycia Hawkins had been placed on leave because of "significant questions regarding the theological implications" of her remarks. The school's president released a statement Wednesday reiterating that it was Hawkins' claims, not the image of her wearing a headscarf, at issue (Hauser, New York Times, 12/16).
  • Wisconsin: Nearly 90% of University of Wisconsin faculty would consider leaving if tenure were replaced with long-term contracts, according to a system-wide survey presented Wednesday. However, some faculty members say the survey had a low response rate and other methodological flaws. Other faculty members told Inside Higher Ed that they did not reply to the survey because they objected to some of its questions. The board and system are currently writing a new tenure policy to replace the one removed from state law (Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 12/17).

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