Inside Higher Ed, A Hill to Retire On?:
A dispute over electronic lecture slides and accommodations for a learning-disabled student may have ended the teaching career of Michael Schlesinger, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Schlesinger said Thursday that he's learned from his lawyer that he is on paid administrative leave over the matter, pending a hearing. He said he has not resigned, despite previously having indicated otherwise to students.
“Although you have a doctorate, I doubt that you teach. Although you have a doctorate, I doubt that you do research,” Schlesinger wrote to a disabilities services specialist at the university, announcing his departure last week. He accused the staff member of writing him “coercive emails” about the accommodation and copied his entire class on climate and global change on the exchange.
“Yet,” he continued, “it is you who have pressured me, who has taught and researched for 41 years in university and is a Nobel Prize recipient, to do that which I will not do, advantage a single [Disability Resources and Educational Services] student over the 100-plus non-DRES students in my course by providing that student with my lectures electronically.” ... Schlesinger continued, “I think the university needs to rethink having people such as you. Nonetheless, I look forward to spending the remainder of my life in Kona, Hawaii.”
Parts of the email exchange have been posted online by students, and Schlesinger confirmed their authenticity to Inside Higher Ed. The messages say that Schlesinger offered to pay for someone to take notes for the student in question, so the professor’s main contention was sharing his slides with the student to supplement the notes.
Schlesinger told Inside Higher Ed that when he sent the email about leaving for Hawaii, he thought he'd already been terminated. "I have not resigned and do not tend to resign," he said via email. "Rather, I intend to fight for a more balanced approach to assisting disabled students, an approach that does not disadvantage non-disabled students."