[For more on this story, see a new report from The Chronicle.]
A tenured humanities professor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy could be fired over a joke he made in class about last month’s mass killings in a Colorado movie theater, The New York Times reports. One student’s father was among the victims. An internal document obtained by the Times says the faculty member, Gregory F. Sullivan, turned down the lights in his classroom before showing a documentary and then said, “If someone with orange hair appears in the corner of the room, run for the exit.”
The remark refers to the accused shooter, James E. Holmes, who had dyed his hair bright orange. The academy’s academic dean recommended that the professor, who was apparently unaware of his student’s loss and apologized immediately, be dismissed for making the joke.
There is “no lesser sanction to effectively address this misconduct” than dismissal, wrote the dean, Shashi Kumar, in a notice last week proposing the firing. The professor has been suspended with pay since the issuance of the notice, which gave him 10 days to contest his dismissal. The academy, an arm of the U.S. Transportation Department, is a civilian institution but operates under rules of military discipline, according to the Times.