- MARS HILL PROFESSOR RESIGNS AFTER STUDENT UNDRESSES IN CLASS
By Clarke Morrison, Asheville Citizen-Times Staff Writer
Feb. 18, 2004 10:51 p.m.
MARS HILL – Mars Hill College has accepted the resignation of a longtime professor after he challenged students to disrobe in exchange for an A in his sociology class and one of them took him up on the offer.
College President Dan Lunsford said the professor didn’t expect the student would actually take off his clothes during the class last Thursday evening.
The instructor’s offer was intended to illustrate cultural differences and that public nudity is unacceptable in American society, he said.
“He did not expect it to happen,” Lunsford said. “The professor realized that this had gone much beyond what he ever anticipated, and he was shocked and dismayed.”
Lunsford said he would not release the name of the professor or student because of privacy concerns. The student will not be punished, he said.
The incident has been the talk of the campus at this Madison County school affiliated with the Baptist Church. Senior Kat Marotta said it disturbed her.
“I feel a lot of the responsibility is on the professor in how he handles his classroom,” she said. “I’m very disappointed.
“People were very upset about it. It’s probably the juiciest thing that’s ever come out of this campus.”
But students such as senior Josh Dye do not believe it was that serious.
“As part of the classroom setting, I don’t think it should have been done, but it really didn’t affect me,” he said.
Lunsford said the professor, who has been with the college for more than 25 years, acted professionally by resigning. He has tenure and is eligible for retirement benefits.
“The professor has requested to activate his retirement, and it has been accepted with my expression of appreciation of his service to the college in the past,” he said. “I am concerned about the negative perception it may generate, and the professor was equally concerned in his conversation with me. However, it was a mistake.”
The professor apologized in an e-mail to students in the class. Lunsford said the student will not be punished because the incident would not have occurred if the teacher hadn’t issued the challenge. However, the student will not receive an A for accepting the offer, he said.
“In my view, in American society and in an academic environment, public nudity is not acceptable to illustrate a point,” he said.