What Penn State faculty, students had to say about the decision to not fire Oliver Baker


Many Penn State faculty, students and community members felt relieved that assistant professor Oliver Baker was ultimately not fired for his involvement in a scuffle with a student — but at least one group’s response was tempered because of the "enormous price" it emphasized Baker already paid. Baker, an assistant professor of English and African American studies, was placed on administrative leave following a "physical altercation" last August with a student counter-protester at a pro-vaccine rally. Baker was cleared of all charges by November against a student some organizers characterized as "physically aggressive," but had still faced termination from Penn State until recently. Between Friday and Sunday, nearly 10 months after the incident, new university President Neeli Bendapudi shared with the chair of the faculty senate that, while Baker’s actions were "clearly misconduct," she also did not believe they merited termination. While many lauded Bendapudi’s decision, they also did not agree with her characterization.