Professor Who Called Diversity Training ‘Waste Of Time’ Forced Out


David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
Font Size:

The Duke University Divinity School professor who characterized diversity training as a “waste” of time and energy was muscled out of his job, The College Fix reports.

Paul Griffiths told the world last week why he resigned. He became the the focus of harassment from his university colleagues who began disciplinary proceedings against them while the school’s dean banned Griffiths from attending faculty meetings.

The trouble started for the professor when Griffiths suggested that attendance at Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training, scheduled for last March, was hardly worth the effort. The diversity training was advertised as an opportunity to make the divinity school “equitable and anti-racist in its practices and culture.”

Griffiths apparently thought the school already exhibited such a culture, emailing his colleagues, “I exhort you not to attend this training,” Griffiths said on Feb. 6. “Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty.”

He added that the school had “neither time nor resources to waste. This training is a waste. Please, ignore it.”

Griffiths immediately made himself a prime candidate for diversity re-education as he was accused of being racist and sexist and the object of disciplinary proceedings.

Dean Elaine Heath reprimanded Griffiths for his “inappropriate and unprofessional” message that she said would “humiliate or undermine” the professor who sent the diversity training invitation.

Griffiths’ dean, Elaine Heath, responded on the listserv that it was “inappropriate and unprofessional” for him to publicly “humiliate or undermine” his colleague who sent the invitation, professor Anathea Portier-Young.

Heath wasn’t finished yet. She wrote to Griffith in March: “It is unacceptable for you to refuse to meet with me … Beginning immediately you will not be permitted to attend or participate in faculty meetings or committee meetings … Your continued refusal to meet with me will result in further consequences, including but not limited to the loss of travel and research funds.”

That pushed Griffiths into early retirement.

Griffiths writes in a May 18 Commonwealth Magazine op-ed, “To the University, with Love: Why I Resigned from Duke,” that he was pulling the plug on 34 years in academia. He said his patience was at an end with universities that showed contempt for freedom of thought and free speech.

“It’s over because I recently, and freely, resigned my chair in Catholic Theology at Duke University in response to disciplinary actions initiated by my dean and colleagues. Those disciplinary actions, in turn, were provoked by my words: critical and confrontational words spoken to colleagues in meetings; and hot words written in critique of university policies and practices, in support of particular freedoms of expression and thought, and against legal and disciplinary constraints of those freedoms.”

The response among conservative media has been immediate and uncategorically critical of Duke University. “It’s hard to figure out what’s more appalling about this episode: the ease with which powerful faculty members can strip their colleagues of their ability to do their jobs just because those colleagues exercise free speech and don’t sign on to their ideological priorities — or the increasing power of bloated university bureaucracies, especially ‘diversity’ bureaucracies over every facet of existence at a university that is supposed to be devoted to the life of the mind,” writes Weekly Standard contributor Charlotte Allen.

Follow David on Twitter