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Several LC profs leaving over contract dispute Several professors and staff at Louisiana College in Pineville have either resigned recently, not signed a new contract for the upcoming academic year, or were not offered a contract.

The private, Baptist liberal arts college mailed out new contracts on May 16. The deadline for signing and returning them was May 31.

LC President Joe Aguillard said Thursday that he would not comment publicly on the personnel changes.

"Information about faculty and staff members is not public," Aguillard said. "They are private, personnel matters. We are dealing with them appropriately and without any difficulty."

Glenn Sumrall, vice president for academic affairs at LC, said he also would not discuss the contracts.

"Some choose to say a lot, and some choose to say very little. I need to respect that. It's not my place to say a faculty member is leaving one place to go to another," he said.

Both members of the public relations staff, Linda Hutson and Michele Trice, left the college on May 25.

The new contracts include provisions that prohibit drinking in public, and require that employees be Christians and adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Bill Simpson, a professor of history who did not sign his contract and does not have another job, said he "simply refused under the conditions."

Simpson said he refused to sign because of "what has been going on -- the way long-term staff members have been treated."

Another who is leaving is Ted Barnes, chairman of the division of visual and performing arts and a professor of art.

Barnes is going to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. His agreement with OBU was reached May 31, the deadline for signing the LC contract, though Barnes said he wouldn't have signed anyway.

"It is unfortunate," he said. "I don't agree with the philosophy of the administration. I wanted to stay in Central Louisiana."

Doug Rogers, an assistant professor of communications arts, is going to the faculty at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Asked if he would have signed the contract, he said, "Oh God, no, not a chance."

There are roughly 72 faculty members at the college, according to its Web site.

Five of 10 division heads are known to have left. They are Barnes; Thomas Howell, chairman of the Division of History and Political Science; Don Sprowl, chairman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division; Bruce Cofer, interim chair of the Business Division; and Ruth Weinzettle, chairwoman of the Division of Human Behavior.

Alex Ferry, chairman of the Division of Nursing, is one who not only is staying, but said all of his department is staying.

"We're pleased with the students and the quality of the students," Ferry said. "I'm not a Baptist, I'm a Methodist. I'm teaching in a very good Christian program."

Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits LC, said she has received no complaints regarding personnel changes.

"We probably would not question that," she said of the contract requirements. If contracts were changed after they were signed, that would be something different, she said.

Linda Peevy, chairwoman of the Division of Humanities and an English professor, is a former president of the faculty council, which she said has been disbanded.

"The board has completely reorganized. Faculty representation has been greatly reduced," she said.

Of the employees who have left, she called their departure "a great loss."

"I've lost four people. So far we're looking, but nobody has been hired," she said. "I don't know what we will do. We'll have to try to parcel out to our adjuncts."

Her division had 10 faculty members.

Aguillard said the college is moving in a direction to hire the best quality people.

"We are filling our openings with highly credentialed, qualified people -- people who want to teach at a Christian institution," he said.

Originally published June 9, 2006