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Law Professor Says He Was Suspended Without Cause

December 9, 2020

John Banzhaf, an outspoken professor of law at George Washington University, says he was involuntarily put on leave for the fall and possibly the coming spring term. Banzhaf, who is 80, previously requested a sabbatical for the fall term but was denied. He is currently staying in Florida and is afraid to travel back to the Washington, D.C., area due to COVID-19. In conversations with his dean, he questioned his ability to teach online effectively due to unreliable Wi-Fi access and lack of course materials in his trailer accommodations. Banzhaf's comments about his teaching capacity apparently raised enough concerns within the law school that he was granted leave without pay. But Banzhaf says he never requested leave, and he repeatedly told the law school that he would be willing to teach remotely. The university’s actions essentially amount to a suspension without any due process, he says.

The American Association of University Professors and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have inquired with the university on his behalf. “This is not a matter of he said-she said nor, unlike many tenure and related matters, a situation in which there are any material facts at issue,” Banzhaf said this week. “As the Faculty Code, the AAUP and FIRE make clear, a dean or university cannot simply cut off a tenured professor's salary without providing basic procedural protections.”

A spokesperson for George Washington said the university could not comment on an individual personnel matter.

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