The Clarion-Ledger March 15, 2003

MUW educator returned to post

by Andy Kanengiser

A Mississippi University for Women educator who believed she was removed as a division head after voicing alternative views on evolution is back at her post.

University President Claudia Limbert said Nancy Bryson's removal had nothing to do with her lecture questioning the Darwinian theory of evolution, but she was concerned the timing created a perception that it was.

"Based on this concern, I have decided that Dr. Bryson will remain as division head. I want to reassert MUW's absolute commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech,'' Limbert said in a statement.

Limbert's decision Thursday came after Bryson told American Family Radio news audiences this week that the school's decision to oust her as head of MUW's Division of Science and Mathematics was a result of her recent lecture at the "Critical Thinking on Evolution'' Honors Forum at MUW.

Bryson's removal received national media exposure.

Bryson supporters flooded state College Board offices in Jackson with more than 500 e-mails, assistant higher education commissioner Pam Smith said. Other e-mails went to Limbert, board members and MUW supporters.

"Dr. Limbert has made the right decision on this. Certainly, we support the concept of academic freedom,'' Smith said Friday.

The day after Bryson spoke at the forum, MUW Vice President for Academic Affairs Vagn Hansen asked her to resign as head of science and mathematics but didn't give a reason.

Bryson said the decision was an "outrage.''

Speaking on American Family Radio, Bryson said, "The academy is all about free thought and academic freedom.''

In her lecture, Bryson introduced MUW students to what she said were flaws in the Darwinian theory of evolution. She covered alternative views to evolution such as intelligent design.

Limbert, Hansen and Bryson could not be reached for comment Friday.

File Date: 03.25.03