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Taylor University professor alleges she was not renewed after teaching race-related issues

UPLAND, Ind. (WISH) — Julie Moore is a writing composition professor at Taylor University.

She alleges she was not renewed for another academic year at the private, interdenominational, evangelical Christian university because her course used race-related issues as the theme.

Moore believed she was in good standing with the university after her fall 2021 review. A unanimous vote from the English Department had affirmed her role as a highly valued professor.

She says she was not up for review for another seven years.

After the review, then-interim provost Tom Jones provided some suggestions for her class. They included the addition of material from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, and the restructuring of the beginning of the class. She said the English department chair Aaron Housholder said the suggestions were not requirements.

Provost Jewerl Maxwell said Moore was not renewed because she did not follow the suggestions.

Moore said she did restructure the class at Jones’ suggestion and added a reading from author George Orwell rather than one from The Heritage Foundation.

Moore shared an audio recording of the Jan. 27 conversation with Maxwell. They talked about what the provost’s office had learned, as well as Gregory Dyson, the vice president for intercultural leadership and church relations.

Maxwell said to Moore in the conversation, “There were students this fall that were still asking after two weeks of class, ‘Is this a class on composition or is this a class on the sociology of race?’ And this office hears it. Greg Dyson’s office hears it,”

Moore responded, “So you’re saying, without looking at my course and my LMS (Learning Management System) and all the instruction I give on grammar, writing style, concision of writing, argumentative and persuasive writing, rhetoric, rhetorical situations, and context that… .”

Maxwell said, “I’m not saying none of the course is relevant, but I think that there are continuing to be, the content that becomes the focus.”

“I shared in every interview I had that I teach college composition with the theme of racial justice,” Moore said. “And they hired me.”

She said she uses the theme of race and social justice issues in her writing composition class because reading and writing about complex issues help students improve their writing style and mechanics, on which they were graded.

“They don’t write in a vacuum either because the topic comes from somewhere,” Moore said. “And then they have to learn to write to specific readers and at a specific time and place and at a specific context and in a specific genre so they’re learning that writing doesn’t happen in some nebulous.”

The university provided a statement about the decision.

“It is the University’s policy not to comment on the specifics of personnel matters. With any contract non-renewal, there are many factors that impact an organization’s decision.  We understand and empathize with a faculty member’s disappointment when a contract renewal decision does not go as they had hoped.  We are fully dedicated to embracing and celebrating diversity as an intentional community striving to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which transcends all ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, and national divisions.”

Taylor University