Professor reinstated after firing

Tracy Tucker

After being fired ten months ago, Larry Gross is teaching again at Iowa State.

During his third-year review, Gross, professor of American Indian studies, philosophy and religion, was fired in April 2001. The decision was based on little confidence in his teaching ability and his opportunity of reaching tenure, Gross said.

The review board said Gross did not have any publications at that time. He had at least one publication accepted, however.

Gross said Michael Bishop, associate professor and chair of religious studies and philosophy, said Gross’ scholarship was immature, his hypotheses lacked originality, and he did not do sufficient scholarly work.

His works have been part of his dissertation and national conferences.

“They took all the work I had, [head of American Indian Studies Department] Sidner Larson’s recommendation and dismissed it,” Gross said.

Since then Peter Rabideau, dean of the Liberal Arts and Sciences College, has overturned the decision to fire Gross and also decided there was no fault on the part of Bishop’s decision.

Gross said the university gives no incentive to change when it offers these contradictory answers. Instead, university officials must first admit fault before they can expect to change anything.

“As an institution, administration has a knee jerk reaction,” he said. “These internal reviews such as administrative complaints have as their main purpose to relieve the legal action of institution.”

Larson, associate professor of English, said the fact that tenure programs are not available for professors of diversity programs is part of the problem.

“You have to have a tenure home in history, English or another department for ethnic professors,” Larson said.

According to the 2001-02 Iowa State fact book, tenured faculty of American Indian/Alaskan departments is 0.6 percent.

The total minority presence among faculty is 12 percent and 87.8 percent of the faculty are non-minorities.

Susan Carlson, associate to the provost, said through offering programs such as American Indian, Latino/Latina and African American studies, Iowa State is working toward diminishing discrimination and racism.

“As an institute, we acknowledge racism does exist everywhere,” she said.

Gross said he feels acknowledging racism does in fact exist is part of the problem. If these reports of continued mistreatment of faculty continue, Gross said it could lead to bigger legal problems for the university.

“I’m not trying to get revenge.” he said. “I’m trying to make this a better institution for all faculty and students. That’s my motivating drive here. The whole goal of this is to make [Iowa State] a better place for everyone.”

Rather than point fingers and place blame, Gross is trying to change the corporate culture of Iowa State.

“I don’t want to have to sue ISU, but I will if that’s what it takes to get administration to realize fault,” he said. “I think we could work something out. However, it has to start with ISU saying something inappropriate happened here.”