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Times Record
Updated November 12, 2019
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USM professor who offered students credit to protest Sen. Collins barred from teaching

The University of Southern Maine has barred a retired professor from teaching after she offered students a “pop-up” course for credit to take a bus to Washington, D.C., with demonstrators urging Sen. Susan Collins to oppose confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

“We are embarrassed by and apologize for the rogue behavior of a former colleague,” USM President Glenn Cummings said in a statement early Wednesday. “In response to her inappropriate actions Dr. Susan Feiner has been notified that she is now barred from teaching at the University of Southern Maine, a prohibition that will be upheld by the other campuses of the University of Maine System as well.”

Cummings said Feiner promoted “an unauthorized class that advanced her personal political agenda.” No campus resources were used to support the “one-sided political activism.”

News of the trip prompted complaints that tax dollars was paying for partisan activity.

USM is continuing to investigate how Feiner was able to advertise the course, which was done without approval from the committee of faculty and deans that reviews all pop-up course offerings. Pop-up course offerings don’t usually last for more than few weeks and students must register through a university portal called MaineStreet.

Feiner has previously defended the trip, but also took responsibility for not going through the proper channels. Interviewed on the bus bound for Washington, D.C., Feiner said she works at the Francis Perkins Institute at USM, which organizes pop-up courses that are funded by a grant and offered free to students.

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