Psychology professor Francisco Gil-White's controversial struggle with the Psychology Department is now national news.
Gil-White -- whose banned course "The Psychology of Ethnicity" has been the subject of debate since early in the semester -- appeared on the Fox News show Hannity and Colmes on Feb. 17.
Co-host Alan Colmes drew parallels between Gil-White and University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who has recently drawn criticisms for calling Sept. 11 victims "little Eichmanns."
"Are you concerned, in the wake of what happened with Ward Churchill, about your own academic freedom?" Colmes asked.
Gil-White -- who once called a Penn Muslim Students Association speaker a "neo-Nazi" -- was given a one-year extension on his employment contract. Most assistant professors receive three-year extensions.
"Sufficient concerns about his teaching and research were expressed," Psychology Department Chairman Robert DeRubeis wrote in an e-mail interview.
Gil-White, however, said the University wanted to fire him because of his political opinions.
"I am considering suing the University," Gil-White said.
Gil-White said he was originally slated for a 30-minute segment on the program but was cut off after about five minutes of questions.
"They were failing at the smear job they were attempting to do," Gil-White said, adding that the show was attempting to misrepresent his views by comparing him to Churchill.
"Why mention him if we have nothing in common?"
Representatives for Hannity and Colmes declined to comment on Gil-White's appearance.
The professor was also featured in an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Feb. 11.
The article chronicled his battle with the Psychology Department to keep his job.
"I saw it as an academic freedom case; [Gil-White] said he absolutely agreed," said Inquirer staff writer Patrick Kerkstra, who wrote the article. "Academic freedom is always an important issue. It's been a little bit more in the public light recently."
"The Psychology of Ethnicity" class was canceled after the course came up for review by the College Curriculum Committee. The review is standard procedure for all new courses.
The committee determined that the "focus [of the course] may not be appropriate for a course in psychology," according to a memo from Psychology professor Robert Rescorla, who chaired the committee. The memo, which further stated that certain topics covered in the course "hinge on political interpretation of historical facts," was subsequently published by Gil-White on his Web site.
According to DeRubeis, Gil-White would not address the specific questions the committee had about the course.
"Professor Gil-White declined to address these issues," DeRubeis said. "As a result, the committee did not forward the course for further review."
Gil-White, however, said he did respond to the committee's concerns.
"I responded at length to their questions," Gil-White said. "The objections were absurd."
Gil-White is now offering "The Psychology of Ethnicity" as a non-credit course in the multi-purpose room of DuBois College House, which has a handful of regular attendants.