Southwest Baptist Summarily Dismisses Sole Philosophy Professor

The AAUP’s March 10 letter to Brad Johnson, interim president of Southwest Baptist University (MO), urges retraction of the notice of termination, effective at the end of the current academic year, issued last summer to Dr. Zach Manis, a tenured professor of philosophy with sixteen years of service to the institution. In disregard of AAUP-supported standards of academic freedom and tenure, the administration did not afford Professor Manis any opportunity to contest the termination. And even though the stated basis for the action was financial, the university had not declared financial exigency nor observed the applicable AAUP-recommended procedural standards, many of which have been incorporated into the SBU faculty handbook. 

A document authored by Robert Ingold, former acting chair of the SBU board of trustees, revealed that the real basis for the decision to terminate Professor Manis’s appointment had nothing to do with budgetary concerns. According to the document, the SBU trustees had instructed the previous president “to take measures to move the theology program in a more conservative direction.” As a result, the document adds, “Two faculty members with documented views to the left of mainstream Missouri Baptist doctrine have been removed, in one case by resignation and in another case by elimination of the philosophy department at the end of the current academic year.”

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, March 17, 2021