University of Tampa Rescinds Firing

9/1/17 Update: After hearing from us, the administration of the University of Tampa has rescinded the firing of a contingent faculty member over a tweet suggesting that Hurricane Harvey was “karma” for Texas. The Tampa Bay Times reports on an "apparent deal [that] came after the American Association of University Professors called on the school to immediately reinstate him,” as a result of which the university rescinded the dismissal and accepted his resignation. Read the article

Original story:

University of Tampa Should Immediately Reinstate Lecturer Fired Over Tweet

Alarmed by news that the University of Tampa has fired a faculty member over a tweet suggesting that Hurricane Harvey was “karma” for Texas because it voted Republican, the AAUP has been in contact with the affected faculty member, Kenneth Storey. Our understanding is that Storey, a visiting assistant professor of sociology in his first semester of full-time appointment, was informed by letter that his services were terminated, and that he has not been allowed a hearing.

Assuming the accuracy of this information, we have two serious concerns with the university administration's actions:

  1. The administration dismissed Storey without having first demonstrated cause in a faculty hearing. This is fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process.
  2. The reason for the dismissal raises an issue of academic freedom. Faculty members have the right to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline.

If the administration believes that a professor’s extramural utterances raise grave doubts concerning the professor’s fitness for continuing service, it should file charges against the professor and the case should be considered by an appropriately constituted body. We note that the faculty handbook of the University of Tampa explicitly endorses the AAUP's policies and standards regarding these matters.

We urge the administration to rescind the notice of dismissal issued to Professor Storey immediately and to ensure that any future actions are consistent with the standards referenced above.

See our letter to the University of Tampa administration.

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, August 30, 2017