Thursday, June 4, 2020

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Selman Akbulut first stepped foot onto Michigan State University’s campus as a student in 1967. There, he was taught English. In 1981, he joined the faculty.

Throughout the 2014-15 academic year — then as a tenured professor in MSU's mathematics department — Akbulut expected to teach an upper division mathematics class that was eventually canceled due to lack of enrollment, despite the interest of seven students — two more than were necessary to run the class. 

He was asked to teach an undergraduate class instead. He refused.

On Feb. 14, the Board of Trustees voted 7-0 to dismiss Akbulut. Since then, Akbulut has challenged the dismissal, and he's continued researching and giving lectures at conferences.

"This wasn’t a decision the university made lightly," MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen said in a statement via email. "The president’s recommendation and the board’s action speak for themselves."

Despite the way he left the university, MSU is still a big part of his life, he said.

"I still consider myself a Spartan," he said.

Akbulut fought the dismissal and said he experienced discrimination as a Turkish and Muslim professor.

He created a website to publish and annotate different documents related to his dismissal and the class that he was supposed to teach. He posted tweets using the hashtag "#ReclaimMSU" and jabbed at the university's administration. ReclaimMSU is an organization made up of members of the MSU community who demand transparency and accountability from the university.

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