Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 27, 2017

University Of Oregon Withholds From Public Discipline Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz For Wearing Blackface To Halloween Party


Register-Guard, University of Oregon Secrecy Keeps Shroud Over Actions Related to Law Professor and Assistant Offensive Coach:

During the past four months, the University of Oregon encountered two unprecedented high-­publicity crises with its employees.

Late last year, a law professor donned a Halloween costume that included blackface for a party at her house — sparking widespread outrage and defense of free speech.

Early this year, a newly hired assistant football coach was ­arrested on drunken driving charges in downtown Eugene — drawing ­public attention to a football program that new head coach Willie Taggart was striving to resuscitate and put a happy face on.

The UO took action on both the law professor and assistant coach, but the public may never know the details, because UO ­lawyers ­maintain that the public has no right to inspect the disciplinary records of these and many other UO employees.

A law firm hired by the UO found law professor Nancy Shurtz’s donning of black makeup to resemble a black doctor she admires violated university anti-discrimination policy, and UO President Michael Schill said the university would respond appropriately.

But what that means, the UO won’t disclose.

Schurtz now is super­vising some students ­independently, the UO says. But she is not teaching classes. ...

[T]he UO says state law and school policy allow them to keep the records secret. ... When The Register-Guard asked for Shurtz’s disciplinary records ­after the blackface incident, that “faculty records law” allowed the university to withhold her records. ...

The law allowed the UO to keep secret Shurtz’s disciplinary records even though the public interest was high, with hundreds of people signing petitions either calling for the UO to fire her, or to keep her and protect her free speech rights. Some public commentary heatedly condemned the professor for her costume choice; other writers defended her right to express herself by wearing a costume.

The UO said it put Shurtz on administrative leave for some weeks after the party. The university hired other professors and instructors to teach her regularly scheduled classes that began in January. After years of teaching classes at the UO law school, Shurtz is not teaching classes there this term, information from the UO shows. “She is overseeing some students with independent study,” Klinger said.

So, she apparently wasn’t fired, but short of that, it’s unknown what discipline she did — or did not — receive.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education, Tax | Permalink


If you are a college professor, the practical implication of this madness is have no cause you admire, no matter how politically correct your motivations. "It offends me..." overrides the First Amendment, academic freedom, and even a sense of humor.

Even college janitors aren't safe on today's campus, although this one eventually received a belated apology. Note too that his problem began with a dim-witted union official rather than equally dim administrative staff.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Feb 27, 2017 8:18:43 AM

U of O is FAKE law school. Sad.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 27, 2017 8:53:16 AM