OMAHA, Neb. — The debate over last summer’s confrontation between a conservative student and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln lecturer prompted the new leader of a faculty group to resign.

Donna Dufner resigned a month after she became president of the state chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Last August, the university gained national attention when a graduate student lecturer confronted a student recruiting for a conservative group. The lecturer was later fired.

Dufner, who is a University of Nebraska at Omaha faculty member, said she stepped down because she believes the administration handled the incident properly. She said that didn’t make her feel comfortable leading the faculty group that may want to criticize the university.

“I couldn’t represent the AAUP in the Lawton case because I kept coming down on the side of the administration,” Dufner said.

In the August incident, lecturer Courtney Lawton made an inappropriate hand gesture at second-year student Kaitlyn Mullen, who was recruiting for the conservative group Turning Point USA. Lawton also called Mullen a “neo-fascist.”

Lawton, who was initially relieved of her classroom duties, was later fired after pressure from at least three state senators.

Conservative lawmakers accused the university of being unwelcoming to conservative viewpoints. Faculty members said the discipline against Lawton went against the university’s principles of academic freedom.

Dufner said she felt pressure from her predecessor, Julia Schleck, to take action against the university.

The AAUP group promotes academic freedom and shared governance in colleges and universities.

“Professor Dufner has been unable to put her personal views of the case aside in order to pursue the mission of our organization, and so it is appropriate that she step aside,” Schleck said.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com