NEWTOWN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania professor says that he was fired for citing God in a farewell letter he wrote to students who had completed his class.
Dwight Anderson recently lost his job as an adjunct professor of astronomy at Bucks County Community College, just outside of Philadelphia.
He told reporters this week that the situation centered around a student who sent administrators a copy of the letter, along with a list of complaints about Anderson’s teaching practices.
“Please know that love is a way of life and not an emotion. If each of us, little by little with God’s help, can incorporate these foundation stones of goodness into our lives, we will find an anchor for our lives, which will result in a deep and lasting satisfaction through life, and allow us to influence the world for good as we live out our lives,” the offending section of the correspondence read.
But Anderson said that there is more to the story, one that involves blackmail from a student who was upset about their grade.
At the end of the 2013 school year, Anderson purchased copies of the book “Since Nobody’s Perfect, How Good is Good Enough?” and made them available for students. He placed the books on a table and told students that receiving a copy of the publication was voluntary—they could take it or leave it.
One of the students who took a copy from the table then issued Anderson an ultimatum: change my grade or I will report the book.
“One student called me about it and said that if I didn’t do something about his grade, then he would go to the administration about the book,” he told Campus Reform. “I didn’t do anything about the grade, so he went to the administration, and that was my first offense.”
The college scolded Anderson and warned him under threat of termination not to make “overtly Christian” books available in the future.
But when Anderson sent a letter to students at the end of the following year as an attachment to an email that contained their grade—citing God in one sentence—another student complained to the administration. They provided officials with a copy of Anderson’s letter, along with a list of complaints about his teaching methods, such as requiring students to travel off-campus for stargazing.
Anderson soon received a letter from the dean, notifying him that his employment had been terminated.
“As you probably remember, you were warned that any further violation of college policy would result in possible termination,” the dean wrote. “Your letter, as are your previous actions, is inappropriate. I cannot imagine how it is related to meeting the learning objectives of the course you were asked to teach.”
“I read in your letter that you are closing another chapter in your life,” it continued. “If I interpret this correctly, and you are not returning to teach at Bucks, that is a wise decision on your part. I’ve removed your name from the schedule and am processing the necessary paperwork.”
When Anderson pressed administrators about what he did wrong, he was informed that his letter violated the college policy on academic freedom. While he was then provided with a manual, Anderson said he found no such policy listed, and believes that the issue is really over his reference to God.
He is now contesting his firing.
“I have had a number of former students write to the county commissioner, who is on the board of the college,” Anderson told Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Sunday. “I’d like a fair hearing, that’s all.”