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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Professor fired for offending Baptist beliefs

--by Robyn

Some stories are more painful than others. Sometimes that's because I can imagine the hurt if I were the person involved. But the more painful ones are the ones that dredge up memories of past hurts.

A recap: In 1992 I began my transition from male to female as a tenured college professor at a state university in Arkansas. That did not go particularly well. There was a lot of pain involved. But by the end of 1994 my transition was over and, amazing thing, I still had my job.

Now to the story at hand. Rachel Tudor was a college professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma. "Was" is the operative word. She has been denied tenure and will be terminated effective May 31, 2011.

Dr. Tudor arrived at SOSU in 2004, a new member of humanities and language department, with a BA in Multicultural Studies and an MA in Humanities from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a PhD from the University of Oklahoma. She also had received a residential writing fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and had been named Writer of the Year in Academic Prose by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. That last award suggests to me that Dr. Tudor is probably a Native American.

At Southeastern she has taught American and Native American Literature, Modernity and Theory, Humanities, Composition, and Philosophy.

My assumption is given more weight by the fact that after her arrival, she helped organize Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Native American Symposium, although evidence of this seems to have been scrubbed, as has most evidence, but not all, of Dr. Tudor's assistance in co-editing the Proceedings of that Symposium for a few years.

I do not have all the information on the events that followed her arrival, but I can take an educated guess. My guess is that Dr. Tudor waited until she had gainful employment after graduate school to begin her transition.

Personally I found it a wiser choice to wait until after I had acquired tenure, but people have to make their own decisions about these things.

She probably had an idea things weren't going to go smoothly when the vice-president of academic affairs at SOSU said publicly that Professor Tudor's "lifestyle" did in fact "offend [his] Baptist beliefs".

After her complete transition, the human resources department told Tudor she could only use the single handicap bathroom located quite a distance from her office. As a result, she could only assume that Douglas McMillan, the vice president of academic affairs, made such an outrageous request.

--The Slog

I note that what seems to be the original source is the O', an online college news site at Oklahoma State University which requires a paid subscription.

For nearly two years, the administration at Southeastern has repeatedly and egregiously violated established policies and procedures in the review of Dr. Tudor's application for tenure and promotion. The Faculty Appeals Committee has found in favor of Dr. Tudor twice, and the Faculty Senate has passed a resolution in support of her. Meanwhile, the administration arbitrarily re-wrote the Academic Policies and Procedures manual in the midst of the process, in order to facilitate Dr. Tudor's dismissal.

--Petition to Reinstate Dr. Rachel Tudor

In April 2011, Dr. Rachel Tudor, an Assistant Professor of English, Humanities and Literature was denied tenure despite having been recommended for promotion and tenure twice in the last two years by the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee, based on the university's criteria of teaching, scholarship and service. The Committee, whose positive recommendations for tenure routinely approved by the Administration was overruled by the vice president of academic affairs Dr. Douglas McMillan, who had previously inquired with the university's Human Resources Department whether Dr. Tudor could be terminated because her lifestyle "offends his Baptist beliefs." Justifying the tenure denial, McMillan has claimed that Tudor was unqualified, despite the original Tenure and Promotion Committee's findings, those of the Faculty Appeals Committee, and a resolution by the Faculty Senate in support of Tudor's application. Dr. Tudor has brought her case to the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, the US Department of Education, and the EEOC.


Additional analysis by Dr. Jillian Weiss is available at Bilerico. Even more info is available at Tenured Radical.

Professor Tudor's supporters say that they

have compelling evidence that this denial and dismissal are due to discrimination against her for being transgender. In a mess that has gone on for nearly two years, the administration at our university has repeatedly and egregiously violated established policies and procedures. The Faculty Appeals Committee has found in favor of Rachel twice, and the Faculty Senate has passed a resolution in support of her. Meanwhile, the VP for Academic Affairs and the President arbitrarily re-wrote the Academic Policies and Procedures manual in the midst of the process, in order to allow the VP for Business Affairs (!) to overrule the decision of the Faculty Appeals Committee.

--Tenured Radical

Tenure and promotions at colleges and universities which are primarily teaching institutions, such as Southeastern, are primarily based on teaching, scholarship and service to the academic community.

Generally speaking, the last component applies to serving on committees. Dr. Tudor was a member of the Planning Committee - 2009-2010 and elected to the Faculty Senate for the period 2009 - 2012, was awarded an Outstanding Scholarship Award on April 26 of this year

The Faculty Senate respectfully requests President Minks to honor the Unanimous decision of the Faculty Appellate Committee to allow Dr. Rachel Tudor to apply for tenure and promotion in FY 2010-2011.
11 in favor, 5 Abstain

Motion Approved

--Faculty Senate minutes

This action was over-ruled by the administration.

Rachel has a bloglet here: rachel and friends. I quote her from it:

The classroom is my “clean, well-lighted place”—to borrow a line from one of my favorite short stories. There may be other jobs for someone with my education, but not for me. I love the classroom—not because I love teaching per se—but because I love learning. To the chagrin of my poor eyes, I read a couple of books a week and dozens of essays. The opportunity to share what I've learned and to hear what others think is always the best part of my day. Perhaps it is selfish to want to continue doing a job that is so satisfying.

What can you do?

1) Write a letter to the Oklahoma State Board of Regents asking them to direct President Minks to respect the decision of the Faculty Appellate Committee and the resolution of the Faculty Senate, renewing Rachel's contract and allowing her tenure case a fair, unbiased hearing. Their contact information is on Rachel's blog, linked above.
Sheridan McCaffree, Executive Director, Regional University System of Oklahoma, 3555 NW 58th St, Suite 320, OKC, OK 73112; 405-942-8817; email:

2) Spread word about this to interested colleagues and contacts, and ask them to write, as well. We are hopeful that public outcry may influence the Regents to reconsider President Minks' decision.

3) We would be particularly grateful for any contacts in the media and/or legal profession who might be willing to help.

--Claire B. Potter, Tenured Radical

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