USI professor fired for behavior

Jessie Hellmann

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A USI theatre professor was fired after an incident that occurred in his introduction to theatre class Oct. 31.

Robert Broadfoot

Theatre Assistant Professor Robert Broadfoot was told in a letter from Liberal Arts Dean Michael Aakhus he was fired as of Nov. 11.

Broadfoot worked for the university since August 2009 and taught introduction to theatre, scenic design and scenic painting.

“During your Theatre 102 class on October 31, 2011, you engaged in behavior that was both unacceptable to the University and offensive

to a number of students in the class,” Aakhus wrote.

 

The letter said Broadfoot’s behavior included “aggressive physical gestures and repeated use of vulgar and demeaning language.”

The letter also said if Broadfoot did not contest his termination, he would be paid an amount equal to his current monthly salary of around $4,700 plus monthly benefits for three months starting Dec. 31.

In exchange for these payments, Broadfoot agreed to stay off campus and out of all university buildings.

The incident occurred when Broadfoot started yelling and cussing at the class, freshman theatre major Ranie Carver said.

“He began yelling about our lack of commitment, how we were lax in our assignments, how we weren’t helping with the production, how we were complaining,” Carver said.

He then pointed at two students specifically, Carver said.

“One he said, ‘was bitching because you’re sick,’” Carver said. “He started yelling about how all he wanted to do was prepare us and give us a chance out in the real world and we were not doing anything to help. He said we didn’t care. Not about our assignments or anything.”

A girl sitting behind Carver raised her hand to ask a question, Carver said.

After a few minutes, Carver said, the girl got up to walk out saying, “Obviously, I’m not going to get my question answered today.”

“Mr. Broadfoot raced in front of her and tried to stop her by yelling that she wasn’t going to leave his class,” Carver said. “She asked why not. He just said because she wasn’t. She argued for a moment then he got out of her way to let her go.”

Carver said Broadfoot yelled at the class that if anyone else wanted to leave, they should do so now. No one left and he slammed the door, Carver said.

“He broke down, almost in tears a few minutes later and started talking about how he just wanted to have a happy life and how he was blessed. He went from rage to tears in like a few moments flat.”

Performing Arts Department Chair Elliot Wasserman sent an email to the Theatre 102 class Nov. 4 to inform the students he would take over the class previously instructed by Broadfoot for the rest of the semester.

Freshman theatre major Ashlee Casey is a student in the Theatre 102 class, but said she was not present the day of the incident.

“I thought he was a good teacher. He gave us complete honesty about what to do to survive in our fields and I think that he generally wanted us to succeed,” Casey said. “On different occasions I’ve noticed a short fuse and a large temper.”

Broadfoot said the public filing about his termination is accurate.

“The only thing I want to add is I really enjoyed my time at the university, and I’ll miss my students very much,” Broadfoot said. 

 

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