Since 2015 there have been numerous instances of talented and accomplished people resigning from their positions, or declining opportunities to present invited lectures, attend classes, or work at the University of Texas due to concerns over the policy of allowing loaded handguns in campus buildings and classrooms. PolitiFact has confirmed that there are “concrete examples” of such occurrences in an article published on August 26, 2016; we have been documenting them to demonstrate that weapons on campus are harming the ability of Texas universities to maintain the first-class academic enterprise to which we all aspire.
The incidents cited below—involving esteemed professors, invited speakers, prospective job applicants and students on multiple Texas campuses—include ones that have already been publicly reported as well as new ones that we have verified for accuracy. We have received permission to make all the new examples on this list public.
If you learn of new examples that demonstrate the adverse impact of SB 11 on the recruitment, retention, and reputation of faculty, staff and students on Texas campuses, please send an email to nothanksUT@gmail.com. In your message, please include the source of your information, and verify whether the name of the individual concerned can be made public.
We will follow up with you to confirm that we have correctly interpreted the information that you have supplied.
This lis is current as of April 9, 2017.
Known retention and recruitment failures at multiple Texas campuses
Thomas C. Sudhof, Stanford University, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine in 2013, declined an offer from UT–Southwestern in part because of campus carry.
Fritz Steiner, dean of the UT School of Architecture, accepted an offer at the University of Pennsylvania in part because of campus carry.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a finalist for dean of Moody College of Communication, withdrew his candidacy because of the University’s decision to allow guns in classrooms.
Robin Bernstein, Professor and Chair of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University, had been heavily recruited for several years for a senior chaired position in Women’s and Gender Studies at UT. When SB11 was passed, she withdrew from consideration, citing “the madness in the legislature.”
Daniel Hammermesh, economics professor emeritus, stopped teaching at UT because of campus carry and began teaching at the Royal Holloway University of London.
Kimberly Tallbear-Dauphine, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American and Indigenous Studies, resigned to take a position as Associate Professor in the faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta because she did not want the added factor of guns in the classroom when discussing topics that are sometimes difficult for students to process emotionally and politically.
Scott Moser, Assistant Professor of Government, accepted a faculty position at the University of Nottingham, partly due to concern over campus carry.
Nora Dolliver, one of the top applicants granted admission to the MA program in Russian and Eurasian Studies/MS in Library Science, turned down a spot because of campus carry.
A student accepted into the UT graduate program in architecture went instead to the University of Pennsylvania in response to campus carry and the departure of the Dean of Architecture.
Leo Bevilacqua, Plan II freshman, transferred to Columbia Univ. because of campus carry.
Moses Goren, straight A student at Hunter College High School in NYC, decided against applying to UT Austin because of campus carry.
Marisa Schmidt, former program coordinator to increase the representation of women in Mechanical Engineering at UT, daughter of a UT professor, and mother of a UT student, decided not to seek re-employment at UT because of campus carry.
Michele Forman, Professor of Nutritional Sciences, former Director of the School of Human Ecology, and renowned researcher, resigned in part because of campus carry to become Head of the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University. During one five-year period at UT, Professor Forman obtained 41 million dollars of external funding to support research in maternal and child health and cancer research. In her resignation letter to President Fenves, Dr. Forman stated: “Lastly I wish to make one statement about the gun law on campus. This law has upset faculty and students, and changed the syllabus in my class to remove contentious topics. Having students with guns in a class makes no sense. It removes education and focuses on issues that do not belong on campus. I recommend removal of guns from class and storage in lockers to bring back the spirit of academia!”
Jigna Desai from University of Minnesota, offered a professorship in Women and Gender Studies and American Studies, declined, citing as one of her reasons Campus Carry and the hostile climate it would create.
Assistant Professor Byron Wallace resigned this spring from the School of Information to join the faculty at the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University citing campus carry as a factor in his decision.
Laura Stein, Associate Professor of Radio, Television, Film, resigned in part because of campus carry, stating that “…working and living in a state that encourages the ubiquitous availability of guns, including in my place of work, no longer felt as safe or hospitable as it once did.”
Miguel Ferguson, associate professor of social work, resigned his position in the summer of 2016 in part because of the campus carry law. In 2013, he was voted as one of the ten most inspiring professors at UT by the Texas Exes (Texas 10) . “These are professors that their former students, upon reflection and with the benefit of hindsight, consider to have made a lasting impact on their lives.”
Reduction of the pool of candidates for key positions
Lynn Isbell, chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, declined to suggest candidates for a deanship at the University of Houston because of campus carry.
Impacts on programs for visiting speakers
Harry Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of California at Berkeley, rescinded his association with a lecture series in his honor, the Dr. Harry Edwards Lectures on Sport and Society” in an open letter published in the Huffington Post.
Hanan Hammad, Associate Professor of History and Director of Middle East Studies,Texas Christian University, declined a lecture invitation because of opposition to campus carry.
Karla Holloway, Professor of English, Law, and Women’s Studies, Duke University, cancelled a speaking engagement because of campus carry.
Ruha Benjamin, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University, withdrew her acceptance of an invitation to lecture because of campus carry, writing in an open letter to Professor Minkah Makalani, that “the university is the place where we must be able to discuss and debate the most difficult questions of our time. Like many others, my work grapples with controversial ideas, and it is crucial that we all be able to engage others in a context that encourages participants to take intellectual risks. The current policy deprives members of the university community, including visitors, of this basic educational expectation.”
Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, declined to speak at a symposium organized by the Institute for Historical Studies at UT Austin because in his words, “…I made a promise to myself not to go to any university where students and faculty are permitted to carry weapons.” Professor Shapin is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his work in the historical sociology of scientific knowledge.
Micha Cárdenas, Assistant Professor of Interactive Media Design and Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington at Bothell, cancelled her appearance at a February symposium at UT. Professor Cárdenas directs the Poetic Operations Collaborative, which her web site describes as “applying technological creativity to advance social justice.” Cardenas is first generation Colombian American.
Impact on the performing arts and cultural programs
Musician Ray LaMontagne cancelled his performance at Bass Concert Hall on September 22, citing concerns over campus carry and stating that “There are a lot of things this country needs more of, but guns aren’t one of them.”
If you learn of new examples that demonstrate the adverse impact of SB 11 on the recruitment, retention, and reputation of faculty, staff and students on Texas campuses, please send an email to nothanksUT@gmail.com.