While both a fired professor looked for answers and a university stood by its decision to dismiss him in front of a personnel committee last week, Southwest Baptist University’s dean of theology took to social media to share his perspective.
According to a statement released by SBU Friday night, Dec. 21, the university’s Educational Policies and Personnel Committee, made up of members from its board of trustees, met for an around five-hour appeal hearing with dismissed employee, tenured Bible professor Clint Bass, and university officials on Dec. 21.
As part of the appeal process outlined in SBU’s faculty handbook, “the employee was given the opportunity to address the committee and provide information the employee deemed relevant to the notice as to his conduct,” the release said.
In a Dec. 21 statement posted on a Change.org petition called “A Call for Action: We Want Bass Back,” created to support Bass’s fight to regain employment at SBU, Bass said the hearing did not go as he had planned.
Saying he was promised a fair appeal hearing with each side speaking for 30 minutes, uninterrupted, with a five minute rebuttal, Bass said he “never received that hearing.”
Arriving at 9 a.m., Bass said “the witnesses that had shown up with me were never allowed to enter the room.”
“Instead, the committee demanded I agree to keep the appeal process secret,” he said.
Bass said when he asked for time to consult with legal counsel, that request was denied.
He said the committee then asked him questions until nearly 2 p.m., directed by the university's lawyer.
“A focus was my communications with other Missouri Baptists and whether those communications were immoral,” Bass said.
Bass said he told the committee he would not answer further questions without an agreement for a fair process and an attorney present “after it became clear I would not receive the promised hearing.”
“I was ready to participate in the process promised to me,” Bass said. “I am grieved for SBU that the administration did not honor those promises.”
Bass requested an appeal after SBU gave him a notice of dismissal, which according to the statement “outlined personal behavior concerning conduct violations of SBU’s faculty handbook,” on Nov. 28.
He had been employed with SBU for 10 years.
While a dismissal letter appears on the Change.org petition, neither Bass nor SBU has confirmed the online letter is authentic.
SBU’s statement said the committee, “having received evidence from both the employee and the university,” will issue findings of facts after the first of next year.
“An expectation exists that those interested will have the wisdom to respect the process and not to pre-judge nor reach conclusions without all the facts and information,” the release said. “Please continue to pray and recognize the extreme hardship on every person who is directly or indirectly involved in this process.”
School of theology dean speaks out
Bass’s statement said during his hearing, “a university staff published a post accusing me of dishonesty.”
In a statement shared in a public Facebook post Friday morning, Rodney Reeves, dean of the Redford College of Theology, said he was “now able to respond to the charges leveled by Dr. Clint Bass against Redford faculty.”
While saying Bass was dismissed for several reasons, Reeves said he wanted to respond to the one that affected him personally.
“Clint violated the ninth commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness,’” Reeves’s post said.
Bass’ assertions that Reeves doesn’t believe the Bible is the word of God, that he affirms “neo-orthodoxy,” that he believes Paul changed his mind about the return of Christ and that he is an “annihilationist” are not true, he said.
“What is especially frustrating to me is that most of Clint’s accusations were based on hearsay from a few students,” Reeves said in the post. “How do I know that? He admitted it in a document he presented to President (Eric) Turner and Provost (Lee) Skinkle.”
Reeves said Bass did not discuss concerns about his theology directly with him.
“He chose, instead, to call into question my theological integrity by spreading lies about me,” Reeves’s post said. “The damage that has been done to me, my family and friends, my colleagues at SBU, the administration and the entire university will be evident for years. When it comes to higher theological education, some people tend to want to believe the worst about you.”
Saying he’s “been grieving for days over Clint’s dismissal,” Reeves said he’s been “wounded” by former students who have “taken Clint’s accusations at face value” but also encouraged by others who have defended him “in the face of Clint’s false witness.”
As of press time Sunday, Bass had not replied to the BH-FP’s requests for further comment.