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Professor Suspended for Profane Video Agrees to Retire

August 2, 2022

This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

Ferris State University in Michigan has reached an agreement with a professor who was suspended after posting a provocative, often-profane video for students ahead of the new semester in January, the Associated Press reported. Under the agreement, he will retire and receive $95,000. The professor, Barry Mehler, also agreed not to criticize Ferris State for three years. If he does criticize the university, he could be forced to pay $60,000.

In the video, Mehler said he’s fearful of teaching in person during COVID-19 because he’s already 74 years old and that he was planning to retire at the end of the semester. Mehler’s faculty union backed him and said the university was wrong to suspend him.

“Back to the show,” Mehler says in the YouTube video, in which he first appears wearing an astronaut-style helmet. “I want to introduce myself before we actually meet F to F, as we say these days, which everybody knows means fuck to fuck—which really means that we’re all fucked.”

Mehler, a tenured historian, tells students that when they see him in person in class, he’ll be wearing the $300 helmet because it has high-efficiency particulate air filters to protect “both me and you from this deadly virus that’s going around.”

Mehler then delivers a profanity-laden soliloquy about how no “cocksucker of an administrator is going to tell me how to teach my classes because I’m a fucking tenured professor. So if you want to go complain to your dean, fuck you. Go ahead. I’m retiring at the end of this year, and I couldn’t give a flying fuck any longer.”

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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