Removed Naval instructor will return to classroom Superintendent reverses action against critic

April 06, 1996|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN STAFF

A Naval Academy instructor who was removed from the classroom this week after writing a newspaper opinion piece describing a "culture of hypocrisy" at the school will be allowed to return to teaching, academy officials said.

Academy superintendent Adm. Charles R. Larson reversed his postion yesterday and allowed James F. Barry, 51, to resume teaching leadership courses Monday.

The admiral had removed Dr. Barry and given him 30 days to write a report recommending solutions to the problems he cited.

The removal embroiled the academy in a weeklong debate and brought criticism from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which protested the move in a letter to the admiral. Dr. Barry also asked the superintendent to reinstate him.

"I have decided to accede to his wishes," Admiral Larson said in a news release. "Dr. Barry contends he can meet his classroom obligations as well as prepare a substantive and meaningful report. Because he has raised the issues to public prominence, I believe he has a responsibility to help me in my efforts to make the academy an even better institution."

Admiral Larson said the report is due May 3, and Dr. Barry will be allowed to present his findings to the academy's Executive Steering Committee, a group of the most senior leaders at the academy.

"I'm excited to go back," said Dr. Barry, a Vietnam veteran who has taught economics and leadership since 1989.

But Dr. Barry said he will ask Admiral Larson to create a "task force" to help complete the report and ask for additional time, perhaps into next year.

In his opinion piece, which appeared in the Washington Post Sunday, Dr. Barry criticized the academy for allegedly ignoring persistent charges of sexual harassment, valuing sports over academics and teaching leadership using multiple-choice tests.

Robert Kreiser, AAUP associate secretary, said he was pleased by the announcement and said his organization "will continue to monitor the situation."

Throughout the week, the removal produced numerous meetings among Admiral Larson and the faculty, staff and midshipmen. The admiral continually blasted the article for its "half-truths and falsehoods," while faulting Dr. Barry for not noting the changes in honor training and leadership since he arrived at the school in August 1994.

During one meeting Wednesday, William "Buzz" Bowman, an economics professor, defended Dr. Barry, saying he made sacrifices in Vietnam and now is making sacrifices again. According to people who were at the meeting, Admiral Larson noted that he, too, was a Vietnam veteran and said of Dr. Barry, "He betrayed me."

Roger Little, an economics professor and president of the faculty senate, said he and about a dozen other faculty members have drafted a letter to the that criticizes parts of Dr. Barry's piece and says morale is high at the academy.

Pub Date: 4/06/96

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