Why I Collected Signatures for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
(Also see my MCRI Blog)
Two reasons among many:
1. Murray State University, October 1994 - Filed with EEOC, KY
2. Reverse racism at Lewis & Clark Community College, Godfrey, Illinois
A Response to Dr. X’s "Summary of Evaluation Conference January 31, 1994"
PART I: GENERAL
Part II: Religious and Racial Discrimination
PART I: GENERAL
I met with Dr. X on 31 January 1994 in her office. Mr. Y, Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, was present. Dr. X began by citing what she referred to as the Illinois Community College Act law and stating she had decided not to put my name forward for a third year toward tenure at Lewis & Clark Community College. She mentioned that in her opinion there was not sufficient evidence that I was an exemplary candidate.
I listened very carefully and heard her repeat three times other reasons were she believes I am diffident and aloof, students feel they can not come to talk to me, they don’t feel they stand a chance of meeting my expectations in order to pass my classes, and I do not provide enough encouragement to them. Other concerns were that I had not done enough with the composition program and I was not happy and excited about coming into Lewis & Clark. One of her closing comments was that we must get rid of this adversarial relationship.
I expressed perhaps three times or so that I understood what she was telling me though I did not agree with nor accept her evaluation of me as an educator. I pointed out a number of shortcomings in the portrait she painted of me. Some of those include the following.
The first stated goal of my Faculty Performance Objectives of 30 April 1993 was to "Retain more students." I pointed out that I had achieved greater retention, and, in the case of two tenured English faculty last fall who each had a class in which only five to six students finished, I had three times as many students (18) finish my 131 class, the same one which Mr. Y had observed and his former student had dropped out of (discussed later).
I pointed out that my evaluations for all of my fall 1993 courses were stronger and markedly so in some classes. My strong evaluations were ignored.
I pointed out that she had made no effort to inform me of the seriousness of her concern about my teaching, had made no effort to work with me, and there had been no due process.
I pointed out that Mr. Y had accused me of being "aloof" in early September of 1993, three weeks or so after having become Associate-Dean. He said to me that that is the impression he keeps getting of me. How, after only a few weeks, was left unexplained. The occasion for his comments was over a former student of his in the same earlier mentioned 131 class. She had taken 131 in the past with Dr. Z and received a D. She was therefore repeating the class with me. She was consistently late and seemed to have an attitude problem. I made a general appeal to the entire class that we all arrive on time, asked her twice after class to come on time, and then, as a last resort, asked her in front of her peers to please have enough respect for other students not to walk in ten to fifteen minutes late and disturb them. She complained to Mr. Y. Other than attacking my character as "aloof," he told me I was not "student-centered." I pointed out to both Dr. X and Mr. Y the injustice and inadequacy of such a reason for my dismissal. I might add I’m quite happy teaching at Lewis & Clark and believe there is nothing wrong with my character. Students will have to live and work in the real world where not everyone is the same as themselves.
Dr. X had mentioned an incident that occurred in a 111 class I had last Summer I. She cited it as an example of my students not coming to talk to me. At the time I had asked her if she or anyone had advised them to come to me. No one had done so, including her. Two students, as far as I know from them, complained a reading was too difficult. At the time that I was teaching the reading, I had in class realized it was too hard. Because the next reading I had already given them, by the time Dr. X called me, was from The Readers’ Digest, I had self-corrected. She said that in fact several of my students had complained about the reading and she wanted me to meet with Ms. C and Ms. D, neither of whom are members of the English Department, on how to choose readings. I consulted Mr. T, then Chairperson of the Liberal Arts Division. I expressed to him my concern about going outside the English Department for such a meeting, especially since Mr. W was teaching a 111 that semester too. Mr. T suggested I discuss the choice of readings with Mrs. A, which I did. He also offered to go with me to the meeting, essentially on my behalf as representation, and other English faculty members expressed concern (cf. phone message transcription). Dr. X was quite annoyed and emotional when she heard this suggestion of my being accompanied and represented by Mr. T and said something to the effect that a meeting was pointless. I recall saying that the issue (over closing the Writing Center) was bigger than I was and I did not want to get in the middle.
In retrospect I believe Dr. X’s anger over the 111 incident suggests perhaps an inability to have anyone stand up to her and even respectfully express a point of view contrary to her own. She seemed at the end of the 31 January meeting to accuse me of furthering an adversarial relationship between the faculty and administration. I quietly stated I do not believe I am adversarial. If disagreeing with Dr. X in any way whatsoever constitutes contentiousness, I then fear for the survival of Freedom of Speech and academic integrity here at Lewis & Clark. Her mentioning this 111 incident to me in the meeting in which she abruptly dismissed me leads me to wonder if I am being let go partly out of revenge.
Dr. X also mentioned three students dropping out of a 131 early in Spring 1993 as an example of students not coming to me. They had gone to Dr. Z and asked him to allow them into his class. Dr. Z had gone to Dr. X, and she permitted him to take them. Mr. T told me that Z should have come to him and was undermining his own authority by going to Dr. X. In retrospect I believe Mr. T would have supported me against Dr. Z’s action. At the time no one had encouraged my students to come back to me, the instructor, and discuss the situation. I pointed out to Dr. X at the time that she had failed to support me as an educator and should have sent the students to me first. I told her the same thing during the 111 incident because Ms E, Ms. C, and Ms. D in the Support Services failed to send my students directly to me in order that I myself might benefit from their criticism and make any necessary corrections.
In terms of students not coming into my office to talk with me or their feeling that they can’t meet my expectations, I pointed out that I have plenty of students who come into my office all the time, surely as many as any other English faculty member, and definitely more than some. Since Dr. X’s office is on the second floor and mine on the fifth, I can only assume she has failed to observe students routinely in my office. I mentioned that, given the fact some full- and part-timers give out A’s and B’s in bucketfuls, some students may be surprised in my classes by the fact that I actually expect anything whatsoever of them. Dr. X had herself once shown me during the first few months I was here the computer grading sheet for a part-timer named Ms. U who had handed out 17 A’s in a 131 English class. I respectfully submit that in the entire history of the community college no educator of integrity has ever had 17 students who all merited A’s in an English 131 composition course.
I also pointed out that I had done a great deal in my opinion in regard to composition given the lack of interest among some of the English faculty for newer developments. I mentioned I was responsible for initiating discussion that led to the adoption of a required dictionary in all 131 and 132 sections, debate about new composition textbooks, grading standards, and a computer grammar program. I emphasized that a number of faculty at times showed no interest in looking at composition articles or textbooks I gave them. Because of a number of incidents, I pointed out I have had to minimize attempts to improve the composition program so that reasonable working relations might be maintained between myself and some of my colleagues whom I nevertheless respect.
I believe the exemplary criterion is a mere excuse to dismiss me. Most of my colleagues do not believe there is any validity to the charge. Under such a broad expectation of perfection, Dr. X herself and everyone else at Lewis & Clark could be replaced. Numerous colleagues in and out of the English Department have pointed this out to me.
Dr. X partly hired me to develop a new course in Non-Western Literature which has been an outstanding success with full enrollment this semester. My composition courses last semester and this semester have been going very well.
Dr. X has repeatedly sent me mixed signals. In the fall of 1993, I asked her once about grading standards and expressed my concern about them. I mentioned I had heard Dr. V had a class in which only four students finished. She emphasized that she was interested in students truly possessing the academic ability they should have and not merely passing through the system. She went on to say that SIUE wants people who are the best and high standards ensure that only the best are going forward. Dr. X also mentioned once that many of our students are neurotic and that she herself could never teach them English. She mentioned sometimes trying to take their heads in her hands to talk some sense into them. This type of remark led me to think that she realized how difficult teaching community college students can be and that many drop out for emotional and social reasons that have nothing to do with the instructor. I’ve never had a class finish with fewer than nine or ten students. Many tenured faculty members, including English, finish some classes with low enrollment.
Dr. X repeatedly approved my attendance at four different ICISP Asian Workshops, which led me to believe she saw me as continuing with Lewis & Clark. As recently as late September and November of 1993, she wrote a letter of recommendation for me to apply for a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Grant to China for the summer of 1994 and approved my attendance at another conference on Asia. Neither her evaluations of me nor Mr. Y’s express the slightest trace of the justifications for dismissal they gave me on the 31st of January, 1994. Mr. Y also gave me the mixed signal of signing for my attendance at the fall conference and told me in October, when the institutional fee for China was raised from $250.00 to $500.00 that it was no problem. Dr. X’s husband, Dr. XX, President of Lewis & Clark, also signed a letter on my behalf for the Fulbright-Hays grant in October.
Nothing has ever been unambiguously conveyed to me in or out of writing to lead me to believe that there were issues serious enough that tenure might be denied. My colleagues and former supervisor Mr. T consistently suggested the opposite would be the case.
I stated at one point that I was afraid I would be caught between two administrations, that of T and a new and inexperienced Y, for no fault of my own. Every English faculty member, except apparently Dr. Z, felt the scheduling of a meeting with them at 2:00pm on the 31st and then a meeting the same afternoon with me at 4:00pm showed the decision to let me go had already been made and they were just called together for the sake of appearances.
As a former Oakland Community College student in Michigan for two years, one who studied hard, I do not believe I am expecting my students to do the impossible.
PART II: DETAILED
Dr. X’s criteria of "exemplary" and the idea of advertising for someone better qualified are not in the Illinois Community College Act. In general, Dr. X attempts to characterize me as angry, embittered, and uncivil. My colleagues, who have known me for nearly two years, can vouch such qualities are not part of my character, though I was surprised. It is to be noted that there was no representation present for me.
If we use retention of students as a measurement, my "general teaching effectiveness" is as good as any member of the English faculty and, I respectfully submit, better than some.
My "institutional contributions" have been highly regarded by my colleagues, both this year and last. The first year at Lewis & Clark I served on two committees instead of the minimum requirement of one. They were the Minority Affairs Committee and the Learning Resources Center Committee. For reasons that had nothing to do with me, my involvement with the first committee was not as active as the latter, but I attended meetings when notified and attempted to develop genuine relations with other committee members, relations that have born more fruit perhaps only during this year. On the LRC committee, I was an outspoken advocate of increasing the holdings of the library from 17,000 to a goal of approximately 60,000 volumes. I worked closely with the Director of the LRC and her assistant who compiled an impressive array of statistics to document the need for augmentation of the holdings. Many faculty members, in and out of English, applauded our efforts.
In terms of "Inter- and intra-divisional cooperation," I have bent over backwards ever since I first arrived at Lewis & Clark to cultivate human relationships with colleagues in and out of the Liberal Arts. My colleagues in English can especially attest that I have not been a prima donna, adolescently stamping my feet in furor every time someone doesn’t agree with me or adopt my point of view. Cooperation is one of my highest democratic ideals.
My "Contributions to curriculum development" were initiated by Dr. X herself and, by her own admission, are outstanding. I, the very same person, have devoted the self-same energy and ability to the teaching of composition in my classrooms and achieved the self-same success there that I have in curriculum development.
My "Contributions to community service" have involved my patient cultivating of a relationship with the Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial Society. During the last year and a half I have attended several annual public functions of the Lovejoy Memorial. As someone who has edited the poetry and prose of a leading African-American poet, lived in Japan and on an Indian reservation for two years, I sincerely respect the praiseworthy efforts of the Lovejoy Memorial to develop understanding and cooperation among people of different races. My own good intentions have been sufficiently recognized that Mrs. C. C., Trustee, invited me at the 10th of February 1994 Board Meeting to become a member of the Advisory Board.
When it comes to "faculty advisement," I have always tried to share my advice and perspective with colleagues as candidly and straight-forwardly as possible though respectfully listening to the views of others and realizing others might know more than I do. While basically a humble, self-effacing, unassuming person, I am not afraid to speak out with colleagues and say what I think. It is the very essence of democracy and real education that the viewpoints of people of goodwill shall at times differ. I respect the ideas of my colleagues and relish the free exchange of ideas.
Dr. X attempts to create the image of me as a scholar in non-Western literature but one therefore who knows nothing and has done nothing about composition. Such an image is utterly false. The allegation that I have done nothing in composition fails to acknowledge that I initiated after my first few weeks at Lewis & Clark the discussion that led to a required dictionary for all 131 and 132 classes beginning my second semester here; it fails to acknowledge that I created the discussion about using a new 131 multicultural textbook and showed various copies to every member of the English faculty, some of whom barely glanced at the titles before scorning them and handing them back to me; it fails to credit me with sharing current composition articles with English colleagues, some of whom also dismissed them as trash; it fails to recognize that I requested the Director of the LRC early upon my arrival here to take out a subscription to Composition and Computers, the leading composition journal on the use of computers; it fails to recognize that I contributed to the efforts to replace the old inefficient and unusable LAN network in the computer rooms and that I made numerous suggestions regarding what was desirable in a new one; it fails to note I repeatedly, gently, tactfully kept asking English colleagues to use the computers for a CAI grammar program since I believe computers are ideal for such remediation and yet only after more than a year of begging and persuading was something done last fall and then the computer support person incorrectly installed the program and failed upon my request to get the thing to run properly; it further neglects to notice that I attended the part-timer conference this January at which I sought along with my colleagues to improve the current composition standards; it fails to pay recognition to the fact that I spoke with Dr. X herself on a number of occasions about my desire to have grading sessions of sample student papers for both tenured and part-time faculty, an idea she always seemed to agree with while encouraging me not to give up on doing so despite the lack of enthusiasm on the part of some members of the English faculty. These are only the most obvious of my efforts to improve on the teaching of composition at Lewis & Clark.
Dr. X’s account of the February 1993 meeting between her and me prior to her meeting with the English faculty fails to recall that she stated to me in that meeting that she believed anyone coming into an English Department that had been together for twenty years without a new person would have had the trouble I had been experiencing. Far from expressing to me her belief that I had failed in terms of composition, she conveyed that I was doing well and should not give up because she understood the situation and supported me.
I myself am a former community college student, and I am as successful with community college students as anyone else in the English Department. Just this week before the Spring break I walked the halls during class time and noticed many classes taught by both tenured faculty and part-timers had ten students or fewer in them. My composition classes all still have at least a dozen to eighteen people in them. My classes are not out of line with my colleagues’ classes. In some cases, with all respect, I believe I’m doing better. At the beginning of this Spring semester I had a former student of mine come to me from Mrs. B’s English 132 and ask me to allow her into one of my classes of English 132. She felt Mrs. B was too hard and that she could not pass the course. I assured her that she could and told her to stay in the class and study hard. I did not permit her to enter my class. I also had two other students who came to me early this semester who told me they were dropping out of Mr. K’s English 132. I urged them to stay in his class but they insisted they would drop even if I refused to let them into mine. I therefore allowed them into my class. I do not believe either Mrs. B or Mr. K is less of an educator because a student or two has left their courses and come to me. Yet it is precisely on the basis of a few such commonly experienced student complaints, in required English courses, that Dr. X has decided to dismiss me.
Dr. X’s characterization of me as responding "bitterly" is false and the words she attributes to me are not mine. I did point out as quietly and objectively as I could that the situation has not always improved but that what has changed has been my approach to my colleagues. Because there was little interest at times in "firing up" the composition program and hostility to me and whatever efforts I did make I had changed my approach in order to attempt to maintain good working relations with them while hoping that in the long run things would slowly change for the better. Dr. X was visibly surprised to hear this from me and was obviously struck by the news that I had changed my behavior by making fewer requests to improve the composition program. I might add here that one of the reasons I became involved in the non-Western course was because it seemed I could do something new and worthwhile there while waiting for people to come around in terms of composition.
In the 31st meeting, as far as I can recall, Dr. X did not make the following statement: "I have given you more hours of support than I have other probationary faculty." If she has given me support, it has often been vague and ambiguous. As I mention in "PART I," I twice have told her on different occasions, once in regard to the same February meeting she refers to, that she as a dean had failed to support me by referring my students directly to me. Since she also failed to work with me in regard to my Faculty Performance Objectives last April, I further feel this claim of hers is not true. If she has "not seen the improvements" in my performance, it is because she has not been looking for them and is not dealing fairly with me. Her continually unsubstantiated claim that she has huge numbers of complaints about my teaching rests on nothing but her groundless accusations. The Division Chairperson of Liberal Arts once allowed to me that she is encouraging students to make all kinds of charges against faculty members by the way in which she always automatically and uncritically takes their side. He further stated a number of times to me, as have many faculty members, that the reason for Dr. X’s unprofessional handling of student complaints is that she has never spent a single day as a classroom instructor. Given my eight years of classroom experience, I believe that that may be the case.
Her claim of a "pattern of complaint" appears to be merely a stratagem since she can not produce credible evidence against me as an educator. Her claim that students have characterized me as "diffident" is obviously false to anyone who actually teaches at Lewis & Clark and realizes at what a low level the usual student vocabulary is.
She herself had suggested to me after her second observation of me last Spring 1993 that I ought to play students off against one another more. I had told her I felt community college students could not bear up under the pressure of being pitted against one another in class and was reluctant to do so. Far from "belittling" students, I respect them and even a cursory reading of my student evaluations irrefutably demonstrates that. I can only assume she has not read all of my student evaluations or has read them with only a predisposed notion in mind.
The failure to allow a faculty member to know the identity of his accuser is a violation of democratic right and due-process procedure. Again, I have repeatedly told her this. Dr. X’s approach is typified in her unsubstantiated anecdote about some unnamed "adult man" who went to her early this semester after receiving a passing grade. Her quoting him as describing me as "diffident" is once again suspect and unproven. The claim that I told them to "look it up" in the book fails to note that probably I had assigned the relevant chapter for reading, gone over it on the board, gone over it in the book, and marked it on their papers. I always emphasize to my students that if they don’t understand something they should ask and we can go over whatever it is again. If Dr. X would pay me the professional courtesy of sending my students to me, I would patiently go over the same thing for even a fourth or fifth or tenth time. At some stage, though, there must be consequences for students and either they have been studying and listening or they have not. Dr. X appears to want to remove from student life and experience that reality.
The allegation that I "duck out" of the classroom so that students can’t ask questions is so absurd I am appalled. I can only suggest that Dr. X visit the second and third floors when I am teaching so that she may observe for herself that I do not "duck out" of my classes instead of believing every disgruntled student who makes his way into her office looking for consolation. I might add that during the nearly two years I have taught at Lewis & Clark I have never once seen her near my classrooms to observe for herself my so-called "ducking out." Although Dr. X states this "adult man" is "earning good grades," her concealing his identity suggests otherwise and all his commitment to "learning and achieving" is mere hearsay without asking me precisely what has been his performance in my classroom. Whatever his grades might be in other classes, the crucial point is his performance in my class. It is intolerably unethical and unprofessional that she should be allowed to dismiss my professional evaluation of any student simply on the basis of his whining and complaining to her.
Dr. X misquotes me and attributes words to me that I never uttered when she alleges I said, "I didn’t have any idea about these problems. You never talked to me about them before." The long conversation she had with me before her conversation with the full-time faculty last February, 1993, was largely supportive of me and left me with the impression that she understood what I was up against with a faculty who had been together for so very long without anyone new entering the circle. She did not convey to me then the seriousness of the situation and appeared to be my ally in navigating through some stormy water that she seemed to suggest she would get me through. Her characterization of the February 1993 meeting with me is entirely rewriting events to fit in with what she now wants to happen.
In terms of the "particularly difficult period" she refers to last May 28 to June 2, it should be noted that it was apparently "particularly difficult" for her, not me. The following is a transcription of the phone message from Dr. X which began the incident:
"Message one from X at extension 4010 was received at 8:40am May 27th":
Good morning, Fred, it’s X calling. In the last
two days, ahm, well, three days, actually, Monday Tuesday,
Wednesday, ahm, about eight of your students have brought
their complaints about the class to the writing center and
to a counselor ahm down here in, ah, student support
services. The two people who have heard these complaints
are Ms. C and Ms. D. Both of them have
taught [emphasis on taught] English 111 before. I would
like to try, ahm, if it’s all right with you, a conversation
with you and the two of them so that we can talk about the
nature of the complaints. Ahm mostly it has to do with the
level of the readings that are being presented to them. The
readings appear to be more appropriate to an English 131
group than to this 111 group. What I’d like to do is make
this a more collegial conversation and ah, and ah, take a
look at what you’re doing in terms of giving students
something to read and then asking them to respond to it in
writing, which strikes me as a very good idea for, ah, all
levels of writing students but that perhaps the writing/the
reading material itself is too high a level for
developmental writers. Ahm, do you want to give me a call
and we’ll set up some time to get with you and me and
D and C which may be more, ahm, helpful. Thanks.
"Message two was received at 11:10am June 2nd":
Hi Fred, this is A. I talked to B yesterday about
the incident and she thinks too you should not be in that
meeting alone. Ah she thinks if it gets serious the whole
English Department ought to be there. That ah, really, well
you just should not be there. First place the whole meeting
should not take place. The students should come and whine to
you if they don’t understand the assignment and you should
explain it to them until they do. It is not for C to
explain your assignment to them. Ah, nor worse yet, for her
to say "Oh poor baby, poor baby, let me go beat up that
teacher for you," which is what seems to be happening. But
at least ah beg T to go. So I talked to T too
and said if that you think, if T thinks, he thinks the
English Department needs to be there, that ah, he should
just call us up and some of us will be there. Nobody leaves
town we’re too poor for that. These people are all
scattered around. Most of them would come to a meeting if
they thought they needed to be there. So ah, anyway, he
says he’s not even sure a meeting is scheduled. Ah, so he
didn’t know the time or anything, but he is willing to go
and willing to explain for probably the upteenth time, the
purpose of 111, the purpose of English 131, etc., etc. Bye.
The blatant fact that Dr. X’s message fails to note is that she as well as the "Support Services" never followed proper academic procedure by advising my students to come to me and discuss whatever might be a problem for them. Since I have been a faculty member at Lewis & Clark, she has never once, that I can recall, told me the name of a student who had gone to her to complain about something. Again, in my opinion, this violates my constitutional right to confront my accuser, especially if my livelihood and career hang in the balance.
Despite Dr. X’s claim of "about eight" of my students complaining, as far as I know, there was only one student who complained in the Support Services office. The one student had established herself among the other students as an irascible, confrontational, unstable personality whom they themselves clearly felt uneasy about. By chance, my wife, who was teaching ESL that semester, was at the copy machine on Wednesday, May 26th, in the Support Services office unbeknownst to either the student or the secretary. She heard the student say, "I’ve got to get out of that class. We all think he’s anemic." Not a single word was spoken on my behalf by S, the secretary, who’s unqualified to advise students in terms of their writing. Rather the secretary told the student her son had taken 111 with H at night and had liked her and had gotten a good grade. Not a single academic reason was given by the student for wanting out of my class--nothing but character assassination. I complained at the time to Dr. X about the secretary’s improperly advising this student and failing to send the student to me. I further pointed out to Dr. X that Ms. C, Ms. D, and she herself had each failed to support me properly. While student complaints readily find a hearing with Dr. X, I find it perplexing that my valid, politely phrased complaints are summarily swept aside.
If there were complaints in the Writing Center, no one ever presented me with evidence of them or had the professional courtesy to send my students to me. I pointed out the fact to Dr. X that Ms. C in the Writing Center had not sent me the requisite follow-up form stating the nature of the consultation with any student. This procedure was mandatory at the time. It had not been done. Dr. X assured me she would discuss the matter with Mrs. C and see to it that she would send me a form on each student who had complained. Ms. C never sent me a single one. I doubt now whether there ever were eight students who had complained in the first place. At one point I had told her I felt the real issue was about the Writing Center and bigger than I was and I therefore didn’t want to get in the middle of it. It was at that time that she angrily hung up the phone on me upon learning that I preferred attending the proposed meeting with Mr. T present.
Upon receiving the above (transcribed) message from Dr. X, I had immediately gone to Mr. T for his advice. I told him I thought there was more to the situation than met the eye. It did not make sense to me that I should be called upon to meet with two individuals who are not even members of the English faculty. Clearly it was really about the Writing Center or some other political battle of sorts. Although the words Dr. X attributes to me are not recognizable as mine, the idea is true: T seemed surprised and suspicious at her suggestion that persons outside English should advise me. Mr. T, however, told me I could not refuse to meet with Dr. X and therefore I never did refuse to meet with her. If memory serves, I do believe he stated or suggested that I had the right to have someone else accompany me. He advised me to speak with Mrs. As, who is a member of the English faculty and teaches reading. She and I discussed, as Mr. T and I had, the readings I had assigned. Mrs. A made several useful suggestions for which I was grateful.
The Writing Center, it should be noted, was not part of the English Department. It was separately funded and staffed at the time. The reference to Mrs. C as my colleague by Dr. X is one that exists only in her mind, not in any formal, professional relationship. As a non-tenured staff person, paid through grant money, Mrs. C was neither my colleague nor sufficiently competent as judged by my true colleagues to advise me on the selection of material for my classes. The proper procedure for my receiving communications from the Writing Center was the earlier mentioned reports on student consultations, which Mrs. C never sent me even after Dr. X herself had assured me she would. Dr. X writes: "he raised his voice saying: ’They are not my colleagues. I don’t even know them.’" During the 31st January meeting I never uttered these words, and especially not angrily, though I do readily own the ideas they express. At the time I knew Mrs. C but was not even sure who Ms. D was. After my teaching then at Lewis & Clark for a full year, Dr. X was insistent on my meeting with a stranger who could not even properly advise my students to come and speak with me when necessary. It should be noted that my colleagues in English were all perplexed at why Dr. X would ever have requested me to meet with Mrs. C and Mrs. D, as Mrs. A put it, in the "first place."
Dr. X’s "pattern of student complaint" is an undocumented one. It rests solely on her claim that such a pattern exists. One of the most numerous, favorable comments on my student evaluations is that I treat students fairly and equally. For some reason, Dr. X appears to choose to distort the image of me as an educator. I am "first and foremost" a teacher, and my students, as evidenced on their evaluations of me, have high and consistent praise for me.
It appears to me that Mr. Y is only echoing the opinions of Dr. X and is not evaluating me fairly and objectively. The words Dr. X reports as mine were never spoken during that meeting by me: "Teaching effectiveness?" queried Fred. "How can you measure my teaching effectiveness?" I never said these words to Mr. Y. I did say he had been on the job for no more than a few weeks and was already telling me that the impression he kept getting of me was that I was "aloof" and not "student-centered." If not from Dr. X, from where did he get this "impression"? I further feel Dr. Z may have contributed to this "impression" by, in my opinion, unjustly attacking me on a number of occasions for reasons of his own.
The words as reported by Dr. X are not mine but the ideas essentially are in regard to my feeling very concerned when Mr. Y was appointed Associate-Dean because I did fear his lack of experience and possible lack of self-restraint in the use of his new power as it might affect me. I believe events justify my concern.
I do not recall Dr. X ever saying that she thought I "had received guidance and advice." I know that I do not believe I received proper professional guidance and advice as a non-tenured member of the faculty. Last Spring, for instance, I went to T with a rough draft of my Faculty Performance Objectives seeking further guidance and advice because I felt I had not received sufficient feedback from the administration to complete the form. He made several suggestions for improvements which I added to my Faculty Performance Objectives before sending Dr. X the final copy. It was during this meeting with Mr. T that he assured me that he thought I would have to mess up in a big way in order not to get tenure.
I pointed out to Dr. X that she and Mr. Y were ignoring my having fulfilled the teaching objectives of my Faculty Performance Objectives. I mentioned my numerous outstanding student evaluations from the fall semester of 1993; I mentioned the favorable to highly favorable observations of my teaching by both her and Mr. Y; I mentioned the support of my colleagues, many of whom have been reassuring me that I’d get tenure for quite some time. I must emphasize that Dr. X’s approach appears to be vague accusation: ". . . our own interactions with students and faculty many of whom were critical." Who are these students? Who are these faculty members? My student evaluations paint a very different picture of me as an educator. All of my colleagues with only one exception also paint a very different picture of me. Everyone of my colleagues in English has signed the Petition supporting me and calling upon the Board of Trustees to reconsider and rescind its Februrary 8, 1994 decision to dismiss me.
Dr. X states that my colleagues "offered no comments on teaching effectiveness." Many of them have stated to me that that was because they had never observed me in the classroom, which only stands to reason, since it is not their role at all to observe me in the classroom. Dr. X essentially asked them a question which they could not have possibly answered. A number of faculty members have pointed this out to me. Then, when she had apparently received the desired response, she seems to have interpreted it by giving it a meaning that they did not intend. It is now this reinterpreted meaning that she is using as "evidence" against me. This "evidence" is used while sweeping aside any real evidence to the contrary. Her own classroom evaluation of me on February 17, 1993, which may be found in my Personnel File, suggests, if anything, that I am an "exemplary" educator. I quote the closing paragraph in which she sums up her observation of my English 132 class in COMPOSITION:
This class involved most students in discussion.
Students felt free to express ideas, even when the
ideas were not fully formed. There was laughter in
the classroom and in the exchanges with Fred. There
seemed real pleasure on the parts of teacher and
students. The four or five adult students tended to
begin most discussions but four younger students
were almost as active in their participation.
Such words of evaluation from Dr. X herself never led me to believe that there was anything so seriously wrong with my teaching of COMPOSITION that less than a year later she would have felt a just cause existed for my dismissal.
What am I to make of her statement that there were "moments of silence and staring"? Is one not allowed to sit silently before his accuser and contemplate what might be the true motivations behind one’s arbitrary and capricious dismissal? "Staring" also seems pejorative as Dr. X uses the word. I would describe my reaction at times as merely waiting for Dr. X to empty herself out in hope that she might eventually tell me the truth.
As provided for, at the very least, in 1993-1994 Catalog, under student grievances, in the Faculty Association Agreement, Section 6.2, and in the Illinois Community College Act, Section 103B-3, I believe that, whatever few and normal student complaints there may have been about my teaching in required English courses, they have not been handled properly; that I have not been evaluated properly; and that I have been treated in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
Religious and Racial Discrimination
The night of 1 February 1994 a tenured member of the English
faculty called me at home to express his concern that I was being
let go. Among other things, he told me that approximately a year
ago Dr. Z, an English colleague, had said "Fred Glaysher’s
days are numbered," had put together a position paper against me,
and had tried to recruit him. Apparently, this occurred after
three students had dropped out of my 131 class and Dr. X
had allowed him to take over my students, one of which
eventually also dropped out of his class. This faculty member
asked me if I knew why Dr. Z was after me and if anything
had ever happened between Dr. Z and me, perhaps during the
night I had dinner at his house. Until that moment I had never
known for certain that he was after me. Such a question came as
quite a shock to me and confirmed my worst fears.
I was interviewed on 3 August 1992. The night of the
interview Dr. Z graciously took me home for dinner and
showed me that evening his Bible and Book of Common Prayer. He
later drove me past a couple of churches for which he plays the
organ. I felt I was repeatedly being given a religious test.
Early in September, 1992, I borrowed his computer. I copied
a wordprocessor on to the hard drive. At the time I didn’t think
about the word "Baha’i" being in a few of my address files.
Late in September, 1992, someone placed a poster announcing
a Baha’i meeting in Alton outside the Liberal Arts Office. It
was there for about a week. I had nothing to do with it. Mrs.
B, an English colleague, told me on 3 February
1994, "We assumed you put it up." In early October of 1992,
after the poster had been up for a while, I recalled that Baha’i
was in some of my computer files. Given the religious test I
felt I have been put to, I eventually figured out an excuse to
borrow the computer back from Z and deleted them.
Dr. Z informed me very early on that he had invested a
great deal of energy in selecting me. He told me he had
personally read every single one of the 188 applications.
Because several of my published articles appeared in Christian
intellectual journals, I became concerned that he may have
assumed I was a Christian and therefore put my application
further ahead. I was very worried that there might be a backlash
if he discovered I was a Baha’i. Without Mr. J, an
English colleague, yet knowing I was a Baha’i, I cautiously asked
him early on if my publications in Christian journals had
anything to do with my having been hired.
In October I met for the first time local Alton Baha’is,
good, simple, decent people, as in any religion. I soon learnt
that they had begun placing ads in the religious section of The
Telegraph for the first time in late August. Again, given what I
felt was a religious test and after the poster appearing outside
the Liberal Arts Office, I was further concerned that I might
be connected with the ads and it would lead to repercussions.
In retrospect I wonder if Dr. Z might have noticed the ads
with displeasure. Having lived in a large Baha’i community of
intelligent people, at The University of Michigan, I know I
viewed the ads with displeasure. If I’ve been judged through
guilt by association, I then resent it deeply. Like any
religion, the Baha’i Faith embraces people from all walks of
At the 31 January 1994 2:00pm meeting with the English
faculty, Mrs. A, an English colleague, mentioned that I
was a Baha’i. Some discussion took place regarding whether or
not I am involved with the local Alton Baha’i community, which I
am. Under the Constitution of the United States I am supposed to
have the right to Religious Freedom.
Dr. Z spoke out against me and stated that I had not
done anything to fire up the composition program since I’ve been
at Lewis & Clark. Yet he himself was not always receptive to
doing anything, and he never showed any interest in getting to
know me as either a person or colleague. In my meeting with Dr.
X, she herself repeated Dr. Z’s allegation that
I had failed to do anything significant in terms of composition.
Apparently, previous to the 31 January meeting, Dr. Z had
looked up the tenure law stating that a non-tenured faculty
member could be dismissed at any time and stated so. In my
meeting with Dr. X, she herself had begun by quoting the
tenure law as justification of what was to follow. I believe
these two facts, composition and tenure law, clearly show his
influencing her decisions and actions in regard to me.
On the 3rd of February, 1994, Dr. Z lingered outside
the classroom of my wife, Pamela Glaysher, while smiling cruelly
That I am a Baha’i is the only reason I can think of to
explain Dr. Z’s enmity.
Further, I believe Dr. Z’s religious discrimination
against me has negatively affected Dr. X’s perception
of me as an educator and influenced her decision not to recommend
me for a third year.
On the 2nd of February, 1994, I spoke with Dr. S,
a colleague in sociology (618) 466-3411, who is a former chairman
of the on-campus branch of the Illinois Education Association.
Among other things, I explained to him why I felt religious
discrimination played a part in my dismissal and shortly
thereafter gave him a two page summary of my concerns. On the
7th of February, I spoke with Mr. E, a lawyer at the
National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States
in Wilmette, Illinois (708) 869-9039. I related to him the basic
details of my situation. During one of the first conversations I
had with Mr. K, IEA UniServ Director (618) 656-0010, I
mentioned that religious discrimination was involved in my
dismissal but he advised me I had a better case in regard to my
unfair evaluation by Lewis & Clark. For more than three and a
half months, I have been reluctant to see my religious beliefs
dragged through the mud. Yet it has become clear now that there
is also racial discrimination involved, and the Board of Trustees
is not willing to fulfill its duty, outlined in the Board Policy
Manual, "to serve as a Board of Appeals . . . for employees"
In addition to Dr. Z’s enmity, Mrs. B,
who happens to be African-American, told me on two occasions that
her relatives are Baha’is. Each time she made it quite clear
that she does not think much of them or the Baha’i Faith and
mentioned they travel around the United States for their
religion. I pointed out to her that some Baha’is, like many
Christians, enjoy traveling to speak at or attend some function
in order to share their religious convictions with others. I
added that such people constitute only a small proportion of the
membership of the Baha’i Faith. I went on to suggest I am an
educated person, and I do not care to be judged by the actions of
someone else’s relatives who are strangers to me. She seemed
quite surprised by the notion that, like Christians, not all
Baha’is are alike, and I ought to be judged as an individual on my
After B’s statement on the 3rd that she and others had
assumed I put up the poster, she told me, on the 9th of February,
1994, that someone had also put Baha’i "tracts" in her office
mailbox shortly after I was hired. She then indicated that
tracts were also put in the mailboxes of other faculty members
and that she herself had never seen the poster, despite her
saying she had on the 3rd. She also claimed that Baha’i was
never mentioned at the 31st meeting though Mr. J had told
me on the 4th that it had been. After retracting her statement
that she had assumed I had put up the poster, she mentioned her
relatives as Baha’is for the second time and said she doesn’t
know much about the Baha’i Faith. Z, she claimed, asked her
what Baha’i was. I believe the reason Mrs. B completely
changed her earlier statement was she began to realize I
understood what was going on.
On the 10th of February, 1994, B came by my
office while I was speaking to Mr. J who stayed and
pointed out to B that Z had spoken out against me at the
31st meeting after A had brought up the fact that I am a
Baha’i. B claimed she didn’t remember it.
A day or so after the Baha’i poster first appeared taped to
the wall outside the Liberal Arts Office, I decided, instead of
merely glancing at it in horror, I would read the whole thing.
As I was reading it, L, who teaches Speech, came out
of his office and said to me something like "What a place to post
something like that?" I agreed without further comment though I
was concerned that others too had already viewed it with
disapproval and wondered if his comment didn’t clearly suggest
During the selection process prior to my interviewing, B
had informed the search committee that I had edited The
Collected Prose (The University of Michigan Press) and The
Collected Poems (Liveright) of Robert Hayden, an African-
American poet and the first one named to the Consultant in Poetry
at The Library of Congress. Mrs. B, who is also African-
American, may have assumed, therefore, that I was too. In our
early discussions, I indicated to her that Robert Hayden was a
Baha’i, a fact she apparently did not know. If memory serves, it
was as a result of discussing Robert Hayden that I first
mentioned to Mrs. B that I was a Baha’i. She always
seemed to receive very coldly anything related to Robert Hayden
and his membership in the Baha’i Faith. For instance, about a
year ago, I gave her, as a colleague, a copy of an article
recently published in The Michigan Quarterly on Hayden. Since
the article discusses the importance of Hayden’s religious
beliefs to his poetry, I now realize it may have been a mistake
to give it to her.
During the first semester I was at Lewis & Clark, Mrs. A
noticed on my filing cabinet a picture of my wife and
children at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois.
Some days later she and B entered my office and walked to the
cabinet where they looked at the picture, smiled, and then walked
out of my office. That same day or the next Mr. W, an
English colleague, came in alone and walked directly to my
cabinet and looked at the picture, smiled, and without comment
left. B later asked me why I had the picture on my filing
cabinet instead of my desk, suggesting most people would put it
there. Though I did not know and still do not know what
difference it made in her mind, I told her my desk is usually too
cluttered, which it is. She seemed to be suggesting that perhaps
I had a small three by five picture positioned so that anyone
entering my office would see the Baha’i House of Worship, which
is actually only visible in half the picture, while the picture
itself is ten feet from the chair students usually sit in and is
well back on top of a cabinet in a corner of my office. I do not
know what Mrs. A and Mrs. B said to Mr. W but
it clearly had to be something about my religious persuasion
since no one seemed genuinely interested in my wife and children.
Approximately a month after my being hired, A told
me about a person named R who used to teach math at
Lewis & Clark. According to A, she was denied tenure at the
end of her third year and no one supported her in the Math
Department. She went on to say that R was
essentially allowed to "self-destruct." A claimed that
part of the problem was the Math Department was all male and did
not care to give tenure to a woman.
Another important fact about A is that her office
is next to mine and she has often overheard Mr. J and me
discussing religion in our offices or in the hallway. Mr. J
teaches Comparative Religions and is an outspoken
Catholic. As someone who teaches Non-Western literature, I
routinely encounter Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Taoist, Confucian,
and other such diverse ideas and beliefs in the classical and
modern literature I teach. Naturally, I’ve often discussed such
things with my colleague next door, Mr. J. Yet many times
during the last two years, when I would see Mrs. A shortly
thereafter, she would make it clear to me that she had nothing
but scorn for such matters. On one occasion, early on, she
informed me that Mr. J was a "fascist" and suggested
disapproval of my speaking with him.
Early in 1993, while I was still working on getting my non-
Western literature course approved by the Illinois Community
College Board, A stated to me that in about a year or
so F, a part-time English instructor, could teach it,
since, she seemed to suggest, he was an African. Subsequent
events demonstrate the significance of her remark.
The day after my dismissal on the 31st of January, Mrs. A
saw my wife in the 5th floor hallway and said to her, in
reference to her briefcase, "Is that your suitcase?" On the 4th
of February, A passed my wife in the parking lot and in a
cruel tone said, "Bye Pam," and mimicked someone pouting. More
than a year ago, A told me she and her husband had bought
adjacent property with a small lake or pond on it from the family
of an Alton Baha’i, O. A also mentioned that her
husband knew O since he often swam at the WMCA in Alton where
O works. Her tone in relating these facts to me was always
quite disturbing to me and left me wondering what her true
B came into my office in April and told me she was asked
to sit on a search committee to hire a replacement for me. She
said she wanted to explain to me why she had decided to sit on
the committee. She went on to say that she and A feel very
strongly that Lewis & Clark needs more minority faculty members.
I pointed out to her that I agree and have thought so ever since
I first came here and reminded her of the many times when I had
said so to her long ago. I also reminded her that as someone who
has edited the work of a leading African-American poet, lived and
taught on an Indian reservation and in Japan, and been involved
locally with the Lovejoy Memorial, I stand firmly in favor of
hiring minority faculty and believe it’s a disgrace that Lewis &
Clark has only three minority faculty while the local minority
population is more than twenty percent.
The disturbing, and I believe illegal, fact about the search
committee is that the entire hiring process was manipulated in
order to assure the hiring of a minority and the hiring of a
particular person whom Dr. X is close to and
personally approves of, namely C, a non-tenured
instructor of developmental classes outside the English
Department. During what I refer to in my written "Response"
(pages 2, 9-12) as the 111 incident at the end of May, 1993, Dr.
X had angrily told me Mrs. C, who was not a member
of the English Department, was indeed my colleague. On the 31st
meeting, Dr. X reminded me of the incident and went on to
write in her "Summary" of the meeting, which she placed in my
personnel file, about Mrs. C being my colleague. It is
only in retrospect with the hiring of Mrs. C to replace
me that I can now understand why it was so very important to Dr.
X to force me to accept her.
When Dr. X dismissed me on the 31st of January, she
claimed that under the Illinois Community College Act she could
replace me if she could advertise nationally and find someone
better. According to Mr. Michael Cook, UniServ Director of the
IEA, such a law does not even exist in the ICCA. Dr. X’s
determination to get C into the English Department
led her to do two things. First, by not advertising nationally
and by not stating in the local ads that the English position was
tenure track, a small applicant pool of only 33 persons was
assured. That figure should be compared to the 188 applications
that were received in 1992 when I was hired. Secondly, by
composing the search committee of herself, Mr. Y,
Associate-Dean, Mr. P, another loyal supporter of Dr.
X, and allowing only one English faculty member on the
search committee, namely B, who was well known to
have spoken out in favor of hiring a minority in 1992, Dr. X
assured that she had a committee that would do her
bidding if essentially offered something in return. When I was
hired, all seven members of the English faculty sat on the search
committee. What Dr. X offered B was
the hiring of a minority to replace me if B would support, in
exchange, her hiring C.
On the 13th of May, 1994, F invited himself into
my office in the afternoon and enquired of me what kind of
questions students asked in my Non-Western literature class,
especially about the African writer Chinua Achebe. After a few
minutes of it, I told him I was busy, and he got the message and
left. Although the Board of Trustees had not yet reviewed my
appeal for reconsideration of my dismissal, Mr.F had
apparently been assured by someone of his appointment to succeed
me as the instructor of non-Western literature at Lewis & Clark.
In 1992 C and F applied and were
turned down for the then available tenure-track English faculty
position for which I was chosen the best qualified person.
Neither one of them even survived the competition of 188
applicants into the final pool of six candidates who were
I believe B’s willingness to preside over my
unjust replacement is based both on religious discrimination as
well as racial discrimination. The insidious discrimination that
she and A, whose husband happens to be African-
American, have against me has utterly corrupted the hiring
process and exacerbated the religious discrimination of Dr.
Z, who, again, denounced me repeatedly to Dr. X. By
raising my religious convictions at the 31st of January meeting,
A knew quite well she was inviting Dr. Z to attack
me, which served the purposes of both B and A, as well as
Before I was hired, while the search committee was shuffling
through applications, A informed W and Mr. J
in a meeting at Erickson, the administration building,
"You white males have had power long enough." According to Mr.
N, shortly after I was hired in August of 1992, B
said, in reference to me, to a person whose identity
must be protected, "I’ll see to it that he’ll never get tenure."
As a Baha’i for most of my adult life, over 18 years now, I
find it ironic that religious and racial discrimination have
played a significant part in my unmerited dismissal. The central
teachings of the Baha’i Faith are the oneness of God, the unity
of all the great religions, and the brotherhood of all human
beings. These are beliefs I have given my personal life and
academic career to serving, and they have inspired me to rise
above my own racist white working-class background to spend years
studying and editing the writings of the African-American poet
Robert Hayden, publishing a couple of articles on the Jewish
writer Saul Bellow, teaching both for a year and a half in Japan
and for two years on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in
Arizona, studying or teaching non-Western literature for much of
my life, attending over the last two years the local events of
the Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial Society which invited me in
February to join the Advisory Board, and most recently applying
for and being awarded a Fulbright-Hays grant for five weeks of
study this summer in China.
Copyright (c) 1994 Frederick Glaysher
EEOC, St. Louis, Missouri - Filed with EEOC, MO
Center for Individual Rights - Feldacker & Cohen
Murray State University - Filed with EEOC, KY
Why Voters Should Approve the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative - MCRI
A Personal Blog Responding to the Media and Academics
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
8/18/2005 - National Review Online: Uncivil "Civil Rights" Group, BAMN v. equality. by Anthony Dick.
818/2005 - National Review Online: End Race Preferences, The Fight Continues in Michigan, by Jennifer Gratz.
8/16/2005 - Tom Bray Column On BAMN and OUM Linkage . OUM disavows BAMN tactics, but makes legal statements at Board meeting supporting challenge. Which is it?
8/11/2005 - Wall Street Journal editorial on linkage between Governor and BAMN.