Some have called for [Purdue University professor] Bert Chapman to resign or be fired for his Oct. 27 posting, which laid out an argument that the cost for AIDS research and treatment should factor into the national debate over the acceptance of gays and lesbians.
“The most concrete way to protect the university’s reputation against academic dishonesty and mediocrity is for him to resign,” said Purdue senior Kevin Casimer, who is organizing a petition campaign against the professor.
“However, if Purdue administrators and faculty make a unified statement that (Chapman’s writings) are unprofessional and detrimental to Purdue’s reputation and not reflective of the university, the same effect might be made.”
Purdue officials say they have no plans to discipline Chapman, a library science professor who serves as the university’s government information and political science librarian.
“There are many things on the Internet that would be offensive to a lot of people but protected by the First Amendment,” said Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg. “The best response is to speak up, which is exactly what our students and some faculty are doing.” …
Note that Purdue is a public university, so that it indeed likely constitutionally barred from firing or otherwise disciplining Prof. Chapman for his speech. Private universities (even ones that get substantial government funding) are not bound by the First Amendment, but only by professional academic freedom principles and by contractual obligations under its tenure contracts (and other employment contracts). For more on this story, see this Inside Higher Ed column by Scott Jaschik.