Friday, August 31, 2007

U. of Dubuque Settles With Professor Who Sued Over Ban on Public Criticism By Andrew Mytelka
The University of Dubuque has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a former professor’s unfair-termination lawsuit that raised the question of whether the university was seeking to stifle criticism, according to the Telegraph Herald, a local newspaper. The professor, Paul F. Jeffries, won tenure in philosophy and religion in 2005 and was subsequently offered a special chair in which he would teach ethics and speak about ethical topics as part of a newly endowed “character initiative.” He balked, however, at contract provisions that said his salary would stay the same and that said he would have to pay it back if he ever made “any disparaging, denigrating, or otherwise critical statements” about the university to reporters. Shortly after he complained, the university said he would be removed from his new post and sent back to the philosophy and religion department, without tenure. He refused to accept the demotion, left the university, and filed suit. His lawyer told The Chronicle in 2006 that the contract provision on criticism, even though a requirement of all faculty members at Dubuque, contradicted the purpose of the character initiative. Under the settlement, approved by a judge on Tuesday, the university will pay Mr. Jeffries $50,000 but admit to no breach of contract.

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