Paul Zwier, the professor of law at Emory University who was suspended from teaching earlier this semester for using the N-word in a torts class to discuss a case involving racial discrimination, will only teach nonmandatory courses for the next two years so that no student is obligated to take his class, the university announced Tuesday. In a letter to law students, faculty, staff and alumni, James B. Hughes Jr., Emory’s interim dean of law, said Zwier volunteered to revise the teaching manual for his textbooks to address inclusive ways of covering racially sensitive topics, and he will work with a small group of student leaders and faculty members to promote and participate in dialogues on racial sensitivity. Zwier also will complete sensitivity and unconscious bias training.
Zwier “has agreed that each of the above actions is appropriate, and he is in full support of them,” Hughes wrote. “We are a diverse collection of individuals bound together by a common set of interests and values. We sometimes disagree among ourselves and disappoint each other, but the ties that bind us compel acceptance of our flaws and forgiveness of transgressions -- especially when mistakes are acknowledged, sincere efforts to make amends are made, and forgiveness is sought. At this moment, we are presented with an opportunity to demonstrate and enhance our strength by drawing our community closer together. Let us seize it.”
In a separate memo to the law school, Zwier said that he’d used a word “that can and does cause harm, and I am writing to you to take responsibility for the harm I caused.” He added, “I have learned from this experience, and I am committed to taking positive steps -- altering my torts materials and teacher’s manual to better insure that what happened is less likely to happen again in future discussions of these cases. In my classroom teaching, I will also endeavor to be more sensitive in future conversations about cases involving allegations of racist behavior. Please accept my apology.”