Anderson’s courses cut after 11 years with CU
Former environmental studies professor Adrienne Anderson is fighting for reinstatement at CU, saying that her rights to due process were violated and that she was unfairly terminated.
Anderson was terminated from CU faculty earlier this year and was told it was because of the university’s financial obligations. Before that, she had been with the university for 11 years. Anderson was told last spring that her classes had been eliminated from the curriculum.
CU Vice Chancellor Phil DiStefano said Thursday that Anderson was not reappointed based on financial and curriculum reasons.
“The department wanted to offer more core classes,” DiStefano said.
The American Association of University Professors held a press conference at the Old Main Building on Tuesday. Friends and former students of Anderson attended as well as DiStefano. Anderson provided a confidential report at the conference from the Privilege and Tenure Committee as evidence that her rights to due process were violated.
Anderson said she believes that she was terminated because of her involvement in investigations revealing that companies like Coors and Lockheed Martin were releasing toxins into the environment. These same companies also sponsor CU. After Anderson was terminated, “the administration at CU was being hammered by e-mails from Governor Bill Owens undermining the environmental hazards” these companies were causing, Anderson said.
The Privilege and Tenure Committee is a committee that settles conflicts over faculty rights. Philip Langer, vice chair of the Privilege and Tenure Committee, said Wednesday that his members thought that Anderson was wrongfully let go.
However, “after the P and T gives their decision to the administration there isn’t much that we can do,” he said.
DiStefano denied the appeal of the Privilege and Tenure Committee and said that Anderson failed to submit her grievance in due time.
Anderson refutes this comment and said that she filed for an extension with the chair of the Privilege and Tenure Committee because of medical reasons.
“The day after I was told I was being ousted from the faculty, I suffered a fall, and broke my leg in several places,” she said. Anderson said she was granted the extension and was allowed 120 days to file her grievance, as opposed to 60.
Upon termination, Anderson was told by faculty that their decision would be in the best interest of the students.
However, junior environmental studies major Luis Sotomayor disagreed.
“The environmental studies department is taking away an asset from the students” in firing Anderson, said Sotomayor.
Sotomayor, a former engineering major, said he changed his major because of Anderson.
“She is a personal inspiration, and I really wanted to take her classes,” he said. Sotomayor attended Anderson’s press conference.
Zach Johnson, a former CU student with a degree in environmental studies, took both of Anderson’s classes when they were offered at CU.
“They were the best classes” he took out of all his years at CU, he said. “Adrienne taught her students to think independently and to do research to make up [our] own minds.”
English professor Paul Levitt has also come out publicly in support of Anderson. Levitt is also a chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly. He made a speech on Tuesday about freedom of education, and has praised Anderson’s “high quality of teaching”.
“If a university is pressured into not identifying problems in society, that is abject cowardice and grounds for removing the delinquent administrators, not removing Adrienne,” Levitt said.
Anderson is currently working part time at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. She is still seeking reinstatement.