Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Letter On Ivor Van Heerdon's Termination

Grandpère and I sent the letter below to the chancellor of Louisiana State University to protest the firing of Dr. Ivor van Heerden. Grandpère composed the letter, and I edited and revised it. GP was pleased with my editing and revision. He said, "I didn't know you could write so well."

He complains about the time that I spend blogging, so I said to him, "Do you realize that my writing skills are honed by writing on my blog? Keep that in mind when you get annoyed with me." Ha!

My recent posts on Ivor are here and here.

Dr. Michael V. Martin
Office of the Chancellor
156 Thomas Boyd Hall
Baton Rouge LA 70803

April 15, 2009

Dear Dr. Martin:

As alumni of the classes of 1959 and 1961, we feel strongly about the firing of Dr. Ivor van Heerden. He served the people of New Orleans and Louisiana well in his investigative work before and after Hurricane Katrina and his subsequent conclusions that the levees were poorly designed and poorly constructed and not adequate to do the job of protecting New Orleans. He was the go-to man for accurate information on the quality of the work done by the US Corps of Engineers.

Dr. van Heerden should have been rewarded with promotion, tenure, and a sizable raise in compensation for his excellent work, rather than a termination notice. The decision to fire Dr. Van Heerden seems rather shameful. His termination places the Forever LSU campaign and future attempts to move the university to a rank in the top tier in jeopardy. What has happened to academic freedom at LSU? Actions such as this send a bitter message to the world that non-tenured faculty members who speak out, even when they speak truths that we need to know, do so at the risk of their jobs.

This year, we will be withholding our usual donation to LSU.


Joseph T. Butler, Jr.
June B. Butler


  1. Well written letter. I hope LSU gets lots of them from their alumni.

  2. Yes, there should be many, but if LSU is anything like University of California, Mr. Martin will get the raise.

  3. Amelia and Susan, I'm quite sure there will be no reversal of the termination. We don't give a large amount of money to the Alumni Fund, so Martin surely won't be moved by our withholding our donation.

    Mr. Martin will get the raise.Susan, sadly, you are probably right. Now if Martin had fired a football coach who won a championship....

  4. I can't go into detail publically, but let me just say that for all the good work Dr. van Heerden has done, he has also made incorrect, and occassionally slanderous comments. He was a political liability to the universtiy, and a fairly large one at that. While I believe academic freedom is important, I also think that a university that depends on public funding sometimes has to make difficult choices. Honestly, I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner.

  5. Serenade, I'm with you in that I'm surprised that this didn't happen sooner. We know Ivor, and he's intense and passionate and doesn't always observe the niceties. He's a fallible human being, but he's been right far more than he's been wrong. I'd need far more information before I'd believe that Ivor slandered someone.


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