Community college professor could be fired over e-mail

May 8, 2007

A Maricopa Community Colleges professor could be fired after he sent an e-mail to district employees that contained a link to Pat Buchanan’s Web site and a transcript of a George Washington Thanksgiving proclamation.
Math Professor Walter Kehowski, who has sent controversial e-mails in the past, was placed on paid leave from his job at Glendale Community College. A national free-speech group, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has taken up his cause and is asking the Maricopa County Community College District to exonerate him.
Greg Lukianoff, president of the Philadelphia-based group, said Kehowski is being targeted because of the e-mail, sent Nov. 22, with the 1789 proclamation and the link to the site of Buchanan, a conservative commentator and former presidential candidate. Lukianoff said five employees filed complaints because the Buchanan site criticized immigration policies.
“This case would be almost funny if it wasn’t having such serious implications for the professor’s life and livelihood,” Lukianoff said.
Kehowski declined comment Monday.
He has angered some employees and students in the past with his e-mails, leading to debate over academic freedom and how far professors can go in expressing opinions.
In 2003, he e-mailed employees several Internet links that contained statements about Hispanics. Titles on the Web sites included, “Mexicans Think U.S. Belongs to Them!” and “Mexican Double Standard.”
School administrators said his postings were abrasive and divisive, but said they could do little to prevent professors from expressing their views outside class.
This year, district Chancellor Rufus Glasper notified the professor March 9 that he intended to recommend to the governing board that Kehowski be dismissed. He said Kehowski’s Nov. 22 e-mail violated the district’s electronic communications policy, which prohibits using district e-mail for private or personal matters.
Glasper’s letter says the professor continued to disregard district policies despite previous sanctions and directives. Kehowski was suspended without pay for five days in September 2005 for a similar violation.

A hearing date has been set for June 5 before a three-member faculty committee, which will listen to evidence and make a recommendation to the chancellor. Glasper then will make a recommendation to the governing board, which has the final say.

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Schools: Glendale Community College Cases: Glendale Community College: Professor Sanctioned for Sending E-Mail