Prof Fleming: Call Your Office!
Provoked professor leaves WCCC post
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
By SARA LEITCHThe Express-Times
The adjunct professor at Warren County Community College who sent a controversial e-mail to a student there resigned on Tuesday, before the board of trustees began an emergency meeting scheduled to address the matter.
"As we prepared for that meeting, we received word from Mr. Daly that he had tendered his resignation from WCCC effective immediately," Board Chairman Ed Smith said. "The board has accepted his resignation."
Some of the 30 people in the room gasped at the news, including student Rebecca Beach, whose invitation to a campus speech by a veteran of the Iraq war provoked an irate response from John Daly, a part-time English professor at the college.
"Professor John Daly is (teaching) in a state institution and acting on behalf of the state, and I believe his comments to me is a restriction on my personal free-speech rights," Beach said.
Beach founded the WCCC chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a national conservative activist group. In his e-mail reply to Beach's invitation, Daly wrote that he would work to keep the group from "showing their face on a college campus."
Daly did not respond to a call for comment Tuesday.
Board Chairman Ed Smith said he called the trustee meeting to discuss the facts of the incident and "and certain safety concerns that arose as a result thereof."
Smith would not explain what he meant by "safety concerns," or what he meant when he said the board planned to discuss the e-mail "and other facts and circumstances that came to the Board's attention subsequent thereto."
The college has already assigned a faculty member to teach the rest of Daly's classes this fall, President Will Austin said. He pledged to include a tolerance training session at the college's next faculty in-service day, and to consider a broad range of student input in developing the session.
"We will also rededicate ourselves to a review of our current policies and procedures to make certain that we continue to foster an open and collegial learning environment at our institution," Austin said.
A Morris County resident who attended the meeting, retired Air Force Maj. Ted Sienicki, said he had never had any reason to stop by WCCC before learning about Daly's e-mail from military friends in other parts of the country. He congratulated the board for accepting Daly's resignation.
"That's the end of his abuse of authority, and his self-serving abuse of his position," Sienicki said.
One WCCC student, Jamie Lemelledo, spoke during the meeting and asked why the dispute couldn't have remained an internal college matter.
"I think it's wrong what some people did, ruining this man's name," she said. "I don't think the man did anything wrong, I think it's too bad he had to resign."
Beach said she forwarded Daly's e-mail to the national Young America's Foundation because she wanted the American people to know his beliefs.
She said she did that at the same time she brought it to Austin's attention. Things might have turned out differently if the incident hadn't gathered national attention, she said.
"I just wanted his intolerance exposed," Beach said. "I wanted the people of this country to see what he said."
Reporter Sara Leitch can be reached at 908-475-8044 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.