Professor claims Colorado Mesa violated retention agreement

The termination of all but one anthropology course at Colorado Mesa University may leave the school’s last anthropology professor out of a job.

The university’s Board of Trustees voted in 2009 to phase out the school’s anthropology minor and anthropology concentration within the sociology major. At that time, the university decided to let go anthropology professor Clare Boulanger and keep the department’s other tenured professor, Barry Michrina.

According to a lawsuit Boulanger filed against the university Feb. 13, she was allowed to stay at the university under an agreement that she would be given the option to accept another permanent position at the school if Michrina left by the end of the 2012-13 school year. Michrina died in April 2012.

Boulanger’s suit states she was not offered another permanent position following Michrina’s death and instead received a letter from CMU President Tim Foster that said Michrina’s position was going to be eliminated in spring 2013 even if he had lived and that a teaching position for which Boulanger would be qualified would not be available in the near future. The suit seeks a judgment that would order the university to provide Boulanger with full-time employment at CMU for at least another three years, plus damages, attorney costs and an order declaring Colorado Mesa violated its original agreement with Boulanger.

The university responded to the suit March 15. Its attorneys claim the university did not breach the agreement and if Boulanger “suffered any damages, such damages were caused, in whole or in part, by acts” of her own.

Foster told The Daily Sentinel that Boulanger is “finishing up” and that the only anthropology course that will exist after this month, a new introductory course, would not provide enough work for a full-time, tenured professor. Foster said an adjunct professor may teach that course.

“We made an offer to see if something else meets (Boulanger’s) qualifications. She passed,” Foster added.

Boulanger did not speak on the record to the Sentinel on the advice of her attorney.

At a recent Board of Trustees meeting, Chairman Dan Robinson said he was concerned about students learning cultural diversity without anthropology. CMU Vice President of Academic Affairs Carol Futhey said diversity lessons are worked into other courses, such as art, literature and social sciences, and that majors that once required anthropology courses have been adjusted for the change so students will not need the course to graduate.


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