A contingent of three uniformed police officers greeted the 72 teachers who arrived July 29 for the opening day of the "Middle East Studies Summer Institute for Teachers" at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).
"In a matter as controversial as this it was prudent just to be ready," CCSU President Richard Judd told the Ledger.
The university received some "strident email" and feared a disruption, according to CCSU spokesman Mark McLaughlin. The university received no direct threats, he added, but a couple of "veiled threats."
While not wanting the police presence to interfere with the institute's educational purpose, McLaughlin said, the university felt it was "safer to err on the side of precaution."
The police presence was reduced after Tuesday, McLaughlin said.
The institute's faculty decided to close the program to the media and to prohibit participants from recording the proceedings, according to Judd, who said it was "their prerogative."
"The instructor is master of the classroom," said the CCSU president.
CCSU also did not release a copy of the syllabus in advance of the institute, despite requests by Jewish leaders and the Ledger.
The syllabus was not released because "the faculty was putting the program in final form," McLaughlin said, adding, "At the last minute things were tinkered with."
In addition to Prof. Norton Mezvinsky's lectures on Middle Eastern history and the Arab-Israeli conflict, the institute also included lectures by Prof. Richard Benfield on Middle Eastern geography, Prof. Ali Antar on Islam and Manchester Community College Senior Lecturer Fatima Antar on the position of women in Islam and Arab culture. The class also visited a mosque in Newington.
On the final day, the teachers discussed how to develop curriculum from the material they had covered.