MSU College of Fine Arts Interim Dean Stirs Controversy - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

MSU College of Fine Arts Interim Dean Stirs Controversy

Laura Jefferson, Midwestern State University's theater professor and interim dean for the College of Fine Arts has stepped down from her position last week amid controversy.

University President Jesse Rogers and Newschannel 6 received an anonymous email from a MSU theater student bringing attention to an incident which happened during last fall's theater banquet.

The email states professor Jefferson made offensive racial and religious comments during a theater department gift exchange.

MSU students who were informed of the incident agreed it was unacceptable behavior as an educator.

"I find that really disrespectful. It can hurt someone's feelings like that. It's not right," said MSU student Alec Riding-In.

"I want to be a teacher so I think they should be upheld to a higher standard of conduct," said another MSU student Bailey Daniel.

As a result, Professor Jefferson chose to step down from her position last week, citing personal reasons.

In a statement released to Newschannel 6 regarding the issue, University President Jesse Rogers stated, "Traditionally, MSU's Theatre Department has been a leader in expressing sensitivity and awareness of groups who have been subjected to persecution and discrimination. Regrettably, a recent incident in the department represented a departure from this tradition. The university is aware of the situation and has taken appropriate action."

Students said this incident shed light on a very important message.

"Respect other people's views. They may not have the same view as you do, but that doesn't mean you can talk about yours. We have to be respectful," said MSU student Anna Molen.

"If you treat others with respect, they'll treat you with respect back so we just have to keep that in mind," said Riding-In.

MSU's mass communications chair Jim Sernoe took over as interim dean last Thursday. He will serve until August when Martin Camacho, the newly hired dean takes over.

Professor Jefferson will continue to serve as a full-time theater faculty member and will direct the spring play.

Cynthia Kobayashi, Newschannel 6.

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