UPDATED: President apologizes for how firing was handled while faculty protests the move.
Update (Apr. 13): The president of a Christian college in Idaho has apologized for the way a popular faculty member was fired.
President David Alexander of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) sent a letter to the campus over the weekend, defending the decision to lay off tenured theology professor Thomas Jay Oord. Alexander said budget cuts necessitated the move. A professor in the school’s counseling department was also affected by the layoffs.
Oord was notified of his firing by email while on break, which Alexander said lacked compassion.
“I want to publicly apologize to Dr. Tom Oord for the way in which he learned of the change,” said Alexander in his email. “Discussions occurred via mail and email due to spring break and the March 31st notification deadline. That was not respectful of Dr. Oord and his many contributions to the university.”
Alexander had previously clashed with Oord, who supports evolution and open theology, over matters of belief.
Supporters of Oord argue that the professor was targeted for his beliefs and teaching. They point to record attendance at NNU and the school’s overall financial health, which had been touted by the administration.
In his email, Alexander said the school supports academic freedom.
“I want to state unequivocally that no individual in this process was targeted for academic or theological reasons,” he said. “Any statements that would suggest this are irresponsible and inappropriate. We continue to value and respect academic freedom and the value of tenure.”
Officers of the NNU faculty senate sent an open letter to Alexander criticizing the layoffs, which they say were made without consulting the faculty. …