Tech Faculty Members Found in Violation of University Policy

On April 14, 2021, two Tech faculty members were found to be in violation of Tech policy, after an investigation into flyers accusing another professor of being a racist and bringing a “national hate group” to Tech’s campus.

A complaint was filed with Tennessee Tech’s Office of Human Resources by assistant professor of nursing, Andrew Donadio. According to the investigation memorandum, the complaint alleged associate professor of German, Julia Gruber, and instructor of English and religious studies, Andrew Smith, violated Tennessee Tech Policy 600, Code of Conduct, by distributing flyers in Bell Hall and the University Center.

The flyer read, “This racist college professor thought it would be a great idea to help start a Tennessee Tech chapter for this national hate group, where racist students can unite to harass, threaten, intimidate, and terrorize persons of color, feminists, liberals, and the like, especially [sic] their teachers. Their organization created a national “Professor Watchlist” to harass and intimidate progressive educators, including many women, African-American, and Muslim professors.”

The flyer then went on to read, “Professor Donadio and Turning Point USA. You are on our list. Your hate & hypocrisy are not welcome at Tennessee Tech. No Unity With Racists. Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech.”

On April 15, Smith and Gruber received a letter in which the vice president of planning and finance concurred in the findings listed in the investigation memorandum.

According to the memorandum, Smith created the flyer and provided a copy to Gruber. She distributed the flyers in Bell Hall where they would be seen by Donadio’s students and colleagues. Smith affixed a flyer to a bulletin board in an area of the RUC frequented by students. Also according to the memorandum, the content of the flyer was intended to harass, intimidate, and threaten not only Donadio but other faculty, staff, and students whose views and opinions were contrary to those held by Smith and Gruber.

It is not known yet what course of disciplinary action the university will take. According to Tech Policy 651, Disciplinary Actions, that while Tech may decide to use corrective action, it reserves the right in cases where the offense merits termination or other sanctions to impose such sanction(s) in the first instance without following a course of corrective action.

Smith and Gruber will submit a rebuttal to the violations through a formal request for reconsideration filed by their attorney, Robb Bigelow.