Academic Freedom Under Threat at Widener University
Widener University School of Law suspended and attempted to fire longtime criminal law professor Lawrence Connell by charging him with dubious violations of the school's harassment code, such as using the term "black folks" in class and using the names of law school Dean Linda L. Ammons and other law school colleagues as characters in class hypotheticals. After a faculty panel recommended that Widener drop its "dismissal for cause" proceedings against Connell, administrators reportedly induced two students to file further complaints under a new process, and charged Connell with "retaliation" for publicizing the injustices in his case. Although a second investigation cleared Connell of all charges of harassment and discrimination, it strangely found him guilty of retaliation. At Dean Ammons' urging, Widener has suspended Connell for one year without pay and ordered that he undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation before returning to Widener. Connell is now suing Ammons, Widener, and the two students.
Write to Widener University President James T. Harris today and tell him you won't stand for its violation of Professor Connell's rights!