LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A California professor facing termination over a run-in with pro-Donald Trump student demonstrators has been reinstated after an arbitration decision announced Tuesday, though the school maintains the teacher acted improperly.

Professor Eric Canin was reinstated at California State University, Fullerton, following an arbitration decision last week. The decision came after the anthropology professor appealed a letter of termination.

The school's College Republicans had accused Canin of striking one of them at a February demonstration on campus. Canin denied hitting anyone though he acknowledged that the confrontation did get heated.

Speaking to the university's board of trustees Tuesday, Canin said the school needs to protect faculty "from these unfair assaults on our freedom to teach and our students' right to learn."

"Teaching my students, opening their minds and helping them succeed is what I love doing most," Canin said. "Now more than ever we are teaching in a time of fear. This must change."

In a statement, the university emphasized that the arbitrator in the case concluded that Canin acted improperly and deserved a two-month suspension.

"The university will continue to vigorously support the free and open exchange of ideas on our campus," the school said. "It is unacceptable to respond with violence to speech with which we disagree."

School spokesman Jeffrey Cook said the university considers the time that Canin was on paid leave following the assault allegation as fulfilling the two-month suspension.

He said Canin will need to reimburse the school for two months' compensation.

Christopher Boyle, president of the College Republicans, said his group was disappointed with the result of the arbitration and is considering how to challenge Canin's reinstatement.

"We consider it an unjust decision," Boyle said. "It's definitely not a closed case as far as our organization is concerned."

The assault accusation against Canin came during an anti-Trump demonstration on campus. The College Republicans were there counter-demonstrating.