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Law dean who suspended conservative professor has contract renewed

The dean who oversaw the suspension of conservative law professor Scott Gerber recently negotiated a new five-year employment contract at Ohio Northern University.

Charles Rose III, dean of ONU’s law school, announced his new contract about two months after abruptly suspending Gerber (pictured).

“I wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I have negotiated a new 5-year contract with the university and will be with you as the dean of the college of law for the foreseeable future,” Rose wrote in a June 8 email to law school faculty members, the National Association of Scholars reported.

Rose declined to comment to The College Fix.

In mid-April, Rose suspended Gerber, a conservative professor known for frequently speaking out against diversity, equity and inclusion, after removing him from his classroom by security guards.

Peter Wood, president of the center-right NAS, which is focused on academic freedom, criticized the reappointment of Rose in a June 12 post.

“Well, not only was Dean Rose not dismissed, he was reappointed. Can we say ‘rewarded?’ It certainly seems as though ONU’s president and board of trustees found something to like in the dean’s recent conduct,” Wood wrote.

Last month, the incident received widespread media attention, with ONU reportedly suspending Gerber on the grounds of insufficient “collegiality.”

Robert Shibley, Gerber’s lawyer and a longtime free speech and academic freedom attorney, told The College Fix in a June 16 email that “ONU continues to refuse to tell Prof. Gerber what he is supposed to have done that warrants this treatment.”

“I find it very disturbing that an institution of higher education, which is supposed to be committed to the pursuit of truth, is instead dedicating itself to keeping one of its professors in ignorance about allegations it claims are so severe that it justifies sending police and campus security to remove him from campus,” Shibley told The Fix.

An investigation into Gerber was launched in January 2023, but school officials never told the law scholar what it was about and initially described his participation as voluntary, the Foundation for Individual Right and Expression reported.

Gerber refused to participate since he was not informed of the allegations against him, and was subsequently accused of “insubordination” in violation of the faculty handbook, according to FIRE.

Gerber, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, noted that “insufficient ‘collegiality’ isn’t listed as adequate cause in ONU’s faculty handbook for dismissing a tenured faculty member.”

In a statement provided to The College Fix, Ohio Northern University “categorically” denied the claim that the suspension has to do with Gerber speaking out about DEI.

The university’s statement defended its actions, arguing Gerber’s alleged insufficient collegiality represents a longer, troubling pattern.

“Ohio Northern University’s faculty-driven disciplinary process is fair, equitable, and conforms to the standards of academic due process, and definitively safeguards the academic freedom of our faculty,” the university’s statement read.

The university’s statement added Gerber knows “the general nature of the allegations that have been made against him.” It did not list any specific anecdotes or details, and declined to provide further comment, adding “ONU has done its best given the nature of the charges to address and resolve this matter amicably and confidentially with Dr. Gerber.”

Wood, who received the same university statement, argued it is vague and its sum “is that ONU doesn’t like the manner of Professor Gerber’s expression, which somehow poses a danger to ‘faculty, staff, and students.’”

“It is impossible to know what this really means. We live at a time when colleges are full of loose talk about the ‘harm’ done by the expression of an opinion with which the auditor disagrees. But universities have historically been places in which strong disagreements are aired. Shutting down free expression to ‘protect’ people from hearing views they dislike is unacceptable under the doctrine of academic freedom,” Wood wrote on the NAS website June 20.

About eight years ago, Gerber filed a lawsuit against ONU alleging he had been bullied by peers, but lost the case in a bench ruling in 2016.

MORE: Law school abruptly yanks conservative professor from classroom, refuses to say why

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About the Author
Margaret Peppiatt - Franciscan University of Steubenville