Dr. van Heerden claims he was fired because his criticism of the Army Corps of Engineers – after its levees failed during Katrina – put LSU’s chances of getting federal funding in jeopardy. LSU receives large federal grants from the Corps.
As observed by the American Association of University Professors in its 30-page report, LSU had a ‘prevailing position’ on the cause of the flooding and Dr. van Heerden’s research and public stance ran contrary to that position. In November 2005, LSU Vice Chancellor Michael Ruffner wrote,
“…LSU will engage in helping with [the] recovery of Louisiana, not in pointing blame. The chancellor has begun initiatives toward this goal, and it would not be useful to have the university associated, intentionally or not, with efforts aimed at causation.”
LSU’s apparent ‘prevailing position’ that the flooding was a natural disaster was in direct conflict with the findings of the investigation, called Team Louisiana that Dr. van Heerden was leading with funding from the Louisiana State Department of Transportation.
Trial will begin on the 19th of February in Baton Rouge Federal Court.
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