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SUU Professor Who Used F-word Fired

SUU Professor Who Used F-word Fired

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- A popular professor who was criticized after he used the f-word in class has been fired at Southern Utah University.

Political science professor Stephen Roberds was placed on paid administrative leave through the end of his contract, next June 30.

On Oct. 12, Roberds reportedly used the f-word during a heated classroom discussion with a student about a Supreme Court ruling. Roberds quickly apologized to the student and class.

The episode happened as Roberds was undergoing peer review for tenure. Some students suggested that school officials used the incident as a way to deny Roberds tenure.

"We have gone through policies and procedures, and based on a variety of things, the decision was made that a contract for the 2005-06 academic year not be granted to Professor Roberds," said Dean Decker, dean of SUU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Decker said the ouster had nothing to do with the tenure process or the professor's obscenity.

"He will not be teaching classes during the spring semester. We have fully credentialed faculty to teach the classes that Dr. Roberds was scheduled to teach," Decker said.

Roberds did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Lamar Jordan, Roberds' boss in the Department of Political Science & Criminal Justice, declined to comment about the firing, Roberds' tenure quest or whether there were undisclosed complaints against him.

Jordan would say only that "incidents this past fall caused me to reconsider his application for tenure."

Many were bothered by the decision.

Student Greg Allred called Roberds a "phenomenal professor" who challenged students to think differently.

"I found his classes outstanding. I hate to see a professor of his caliber terminated," said Allred, a Provo native. "I knew he had a difficult time being in a very conservative area."

SUU students picked Roberds as their 2003-04 Professor of the Year. Last week, he gave the university's Grace A. Tanner Distinguished Faculty Lecture.

Carson Bagely, 23 and a political-science major from Aurora, said Roberds was one of the "really great SUU professors" and the first Bagely can recall who was "terminated because he colored outside the line."

"Even though I didn't always agree with some of his views, I just found his teaching to be extremely helpful," he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-12-16-04 1033MST

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