Former Stanford Professor Seeks Reinstatement
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ A former Stanford University English professor who was fired from his job 13 years ago after being accused of inciting violent anti-war protests asked a state appeals court Thursday to reinstate him.
After a two-hour hearing, a three-judge panel of the 6th District Court of Appeal said it would decide in 90 days whether Stanford must pay unspecified damages and reinstate H. Bruce Franklin, the only tenured professor to be fired by Stanford.
Stanford trustees fired Franklin in 1972 on a 20-2 vote because of speeches he made at rallies protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Stanford officials accused Franklin of inciting students to disruptive and violent conduct.
″The university has got to protect itself,″ Stanford attorney Dave Heilbron said Thursday in defending the school’s decision.
After a speech Franklin made on Feb. 10, 1971, students occupied the computer center at Stanford to protest the U.S. invasion of Laos. More than 100 riot police were called in, and demonstrators caused minor damage.
″I had made such speeches for years,″ Franklin said Thursday. ″Never had there been any warnings from the administration (that his job was in jeopardy).″
Heilbron accused Franklin of crossing over the bounds of his obligations as a professor and said he had subjected students to the risk of injuries at the protest.
″It was not a tea party out there. It was a very dangerous, explosive situation,″ Heilbron said.
Alan Schlosser, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Franklin, urged the court to award damages for the three years the associate professor was out of work.
Schlosser said the dismissal silenced other Stanford professors and damaged Franklin’s reputation.
″The word went out in the academic network that this was a violent guy,″ he said. ″That image has kind of haunted him for a long time.″
Franklin, 51, now teaching at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., gained notoriety in 1965 with a speech at Stanford in which he called for a blood drive to help Vietnamese victims of U.S. bombings.
Franklin later joined a number of marches and rallies. Speeches he gave on campus six years later prompted a faculty advisory board to vote 5-2 recommending his dismissal.
In January 1978, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge John Flaherty upheld Franklin’s dismissal. Flaherty returned the case to Stanford for a second hearing because one of three speeches cited by the university as grounds for firing Franklin was not incitive, the judge said.
The faculty advisory board voted 6-0 to again recommend dismissal, which Flaherty upheld in March 1981.
Franklin then asked the state appeals court to hear the case.
Franklin was hired in 1975 by Rutgers, which promoted him to distinguished rank four years ago and has honored him with several achievement awards. The former factory worker and tugboat mate has written or edited 14 books.