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A South Carolina jury last week found that Erskine College violated the rights of William Crenshaw when it fired him in 2011 from his tenured position as a professor of English. The court ordered Erskine to pay $600,000 to Crenshaw. While the college has never been specific on the reasons it first suspended and then fired Crenshaw, many traditionalists in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, with which the college is affiliated, objected to many of his statements. Crenshaw, who won teaching awards and many student fans in 35 years of teaching, was known for encouraging critical thinking. He spoke out regularly about, for example, the need to study science even in ways that do not conform literally with the Bible. Crenshaw's suit said his dismissal violated his rights because the college ignored its own rules and its stated pledge to protect academic freedom.

A spokesman for the college said he could not comment, but said that an appeal was possible.