Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Emory Law Prof Suspended For Using N-Word In Class Will Retain Tenure But Is Prohibited From Teaching Mandatory Courses Before Fall 2021

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Emory Wheel, Law Professor Paul Zwier to Return to Tenured Position by End of Semester:

ZwierEmory Law Professor Paul J. Zwier II, who was placed on paid administrative leave over a year ago after allegedly using the N-word on two separate occasions, will return to the University as a tenured professor before the end of the semester.

Zwier’s return was announced in a March 4 email from Law School Dean Mary Anne Bobinski addressed to Emory law students. 

I have provided Professor Zwier with my decision regarding his status, which adopts the Faculty Hearing Committee’s findings and recommendations with respect to a number of personnel actions, with only slight modifications with respect to the timing of one of the recommendations. Consistent with the Committee report, Professor Zwier will remain a tenured member of the Emory Law School faculty. He will not, however, teach mandatory courses before fall of 2021. Professor Zwier may resume his research and administrative duties, and he will likely return to the Emory campus before the end of this term.

In explaining her decision, Bobinski wrote about the sometimes conflicting values of academic freedom and inclusive learning environments. She noted the importance of recognizing the historical and social background of the racial slur and realizing the potential harm and disruption of its use, regardless of the speaker’s motivation.

Bobinski made clear that Emory’s dedication to the principles of academic freedom means that the University has not adopted a ban on particular words, but highlighted that there are limits to those freedoms.

“I have determined that a faculty member’s use of racially-charged, derogatory language — such as the explicit N-word — with students, and without a clear pedagogical objective, may lead to censure and other forms of disciplinary action under applicable University policies,” Bobinski wrote. 

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


Seventy percent of black boys are growing up in homes without a father, and yet Emory gets all hot and bothered because a professor uses an "explicit N-word" in class. If that's not cold-hearted indifference to the real plight of blacks in American, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry, medical writer | Mar 6, 2020 6:40:25 AM


I thought this law prof had a clear pedagogical objective.

That he wasn’t simply Oprah-style terrorizing his classroom with that word.

Didn’t he read the word off a document or something?

Posted by: Anon | Mar 5, 2020 9:10:46 PM