Students at Loyola University New Orleans are expressing their outrage after the dismissal of the school's only Black English professor, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Last week, more than 100 students and some members of the faculty gathered outside the university’s administration building to voice their displeasure with the school’s decision not to renew the contract of R. Scott Heath’s contract last fall.

Heath, who is also the only Black tenure-track English professor at Loyala University New Orleans and director of the African and African American Studies program, said his contract will expire at the end of this academic year.

“No one has sat me down and said, ‘This is why we’re not going to reappoint you,’” Heath said.

The fallout began in October when he was late to submit an annual submission to the faculty because he had just returned from planning his best friend’s funeral. Heath claims that he was not notified that the English department’s five tenured faculty members voted not to renew his contract because he didn't make the submission. One of the faculty members and Heath’s faculty mentor, Christopher Schaberg, said he and another professor had no idea that their vote would end Heath’s employment. Schaberg also noted that Heath never got a meeting to state his case.

“In my perspective, it was basically a couple of people who decided they didn’t want to work with him, and they found things like technicalities, missed deadlines, improper use of technologies like he would use Dropbox instead of Canvas,” Schaberg said.

Tenured faculty are tasked with deciding tenure-track renewals every year. Following the process, their recommendations are sent to the dean and then the provost for approval.

“Once it was out of our department, then it was allegedly out of our hands,” Schaberg added. “It was like everyone sort of like dug in, and it was like defending the process, defending the protocols.”

Back in March, the English department’s tenured faculty voted 3 to 2 to not review Heath’s case. Schaberg was one of the two dissenting votes.

“The strange thing is, because Scott missed a couple of deadlines, we never actually were allowed to review his materials,” Schaberg said. “We never actually sat down and looked at his teaching, his scholarship, his contributions to the university. This is not a terrible teacher. In fact, he’s a great teacher.”

Carson Cruse, a sophomore and president of the university’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter and an organizer of the protest, said that Heath's firing was unjust.

“This is a clear attack on DEI at Loyola,” Cruse argued.

Additionally, a petition was created with over 600 signatures from students characterizing Heath as “one of the best educators they have engaged with at Loyola.”

“Dr. Heath is an invaluable faculty adviser to Loyola University New Orleans NAACP and Loyola’s Caribbean and African Student Association,” the petition says. "He also serves as a representative in the Loyola University New Orleans Faculty Senate, the Loyola University New Orleans Board of Trustees Committee on Mission and Identity, and recently as a faculty stakeholder in the Loyola University New Orleans presidential search."

In the aftermath of his removal, Heath filed an appeal with the university’s conciliation committee to overturn the English department’s decision.

“This experience is just a reminder that there are a lot of institutional bodies that see Black people, Black faculty as disposable — replaceable,” Heath said. “It’s one thing to be uncomfortable in a workspace. But there are some people who have gone to lengths to let me know that I’m unwanted.”