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Oversight committee says Duquesne University professor who used a racial slur should get job back

PITTSBURGH — Former Duquesne University professor Gary Shank could be getting his job back.

The professor was fired last October for using the N-word during a virtual course.

Shank, a former member of the Duquesne School of Education, during an online lecture repeatedly said the word while trying to demonstrate how when he was younger, it was very commonly used.

Here was his example:

“When I had a little extra money, and I was spending it extravagantly, somebody might say I was (explicative) rich,” Shank said. “Would we do that today? No.”

Shortly after this lesson, video of it circulated, and that was followed by an investigation in which the university determined Shank should be terminated for “serious misconduct”

Fast forward to today — the university grievance committee for faculty is now saying Shank deserves his job back.

“While Dr. Shank’s use of the N-word was misguided, it was not malicious,” the committee said. “Therefore, while sanction of Dr. Shank’s behavior is warranted, it does not reach the level requiring dismissal.”

Now it’s up to the president of the university to accept or reject this recommendation to reinstate Shank. The deadline for his decision is Feb. 5. But on Tuesday, after showing the video of professor Shank to junior Nick Ciminelli, his mind is already made up.

“I personally think it shouldn’t have been used in the context he said it in,” Ciminelli said.

And Simonelli said regardless of Shanks intentions, professors at this university need to be held to a higher standard than Shank’s actions were.

“Out of line, with what is expected from a Duquesne professor, in my eyes,” Ciminelli said.