AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) _ Georgia Southwestern College announced today it has taken steps to fire an English professor accused of making a racial slur against a student.

College President William Capitan on Thursday issued a formal letter of intent to start dismissal proceedings against professor Allen Towery, said school spokesman Wes Wicker.

He said Towery will have 10 days to respond and is entitled to a formal public hearing.

Freshman Ginevra Dennis complained that Towery called her a ''black bitch'' on March 7 when she talked to him about withdrawing from his class.

Towery, a tenured professor who has taught at the school for 18 years, was suspended with pay pending an investigation of the matter.

Towery said Ms. Dennis, an 18-year-old psychology major from Atlanta, had accused him of being a racist when he refused to let her withdraw from his class with a passing grade instead of a failing grade.

A faculty committee investigated the incident and presented its report to Capitan on April 8.

A fellow faculty member who overheard the March 7 exchange told school officials in a letter that Towery refused to let Ms. Dennis withdraw with a passing grade because she had a failing average on her essays.

Ms. Dennis accused Towery of racism, but he denied the accusation and their conversation became ''increasingly heated,'' said the letter from associate professor Shirley D. Litwhiler. She acknowledged that she heard Towery make the racial remark, but said she believed it was made ''in a state of obvious exasperation.''