AAUP Censures Louisiana State for Firing Professor Who Spoke Out about Hurricane Katrina

By on June 22, 2012

In January, FIRE’s Andrew Kloster wrote about Professor Ivor van Heerden’s lawsuit against Louisiana State University, which has been successful so far:

In October, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ruled in favor of Ivor van Heerden, an engineering professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) who claims he was fired as a result of comments he made that were critical of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their design and construction of the levees that broke following Hurricane Katrina. FIRE has written about this case before. When LSU filed a motion for summary judgment, it cited Garcetti [a Supreme Court case] for the proposition that his comments about the levees were pursuant to his employment and therefore unprotected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed and denied that part of the summary judgment, noting that, partly because LSU warned van Heerden not to speak with the media, when he did speak with the media it was unauthorized, outside the scope of employment, and thus protected by the First Amendment. 

The next step in the lawsuit is a pretrial conference set for August 22, 2012.

Meanwhile, building on its July 2011 report (PDF), the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) took the next step last week and formally censured Louisiana State University.

FIRE will keep you updated on van Heerden’s case.