FAU Renews Contract of "Jesus Prof" Deandre Poole
In a promising start to the post-Saunders era, FAU today renewed the contract of Dr. Deandre Poole to teach summer and fall classes, according to faculty close to the matter. It is a decision likely to draw fire from the political right, including Gov. Rick Scott.
See also: - In Defense of Dr. Deandre Poole
Poole was placed on leave in March after a dispute arose over his use of a communications class exercise in which students were asked to step on a piece of paper with "JESUS" written on it. The exercise, according to its text, "really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings."
After one student complained to the media, the political and cultural right exploded in outrage; Poole was threatened with violence.
The anger abated when the school bowed to the pressure (and Gov. Rick Scott) and apologized. It banned the exercise and placed Poole on leave. It was one of a number of scandals that troubled the last days of the administration of FAU President Mary Jane Saunders, who resigned May 14.
Poole had been in limbo until today, waiting on the outcome of efforts on his behalf by the FAU faculty union and communications faculty colleagues. The Faculty Senate's academic freedom committee is still investigating the school's handling of the dispute over his class exercise.
It's a courageous move by FAU administration. Hopefully they have a well-thought-through public relations plan ready (for a change) and sound security measures in place (the Palm Beach Post reported that Poole will teach online classes only).
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