DETROIT — A Michigan professor who was suspended in January for making a profanity-filled video to greet students has settled his legal dispute with a university by accepting $95,000 and agreeing to a three-year gag order.
As part of the deal, Barry Mehler retired from Ferris State University rather than face possible termination after a judge refused to reinstate him last spring, according to a March filing posted to the ‘Associated Press in a public records request.
Mehler, 75, and the university have agreed not to criticize each other. If the professor speaks out in the next three years, he will have to pay $60,000.
Mehler, who taught history at Ferris State for decades, made headlines in January when the school put him on paid leave in response to a provocative 14-minute video, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube.
He used profanity and made a sexual reference as he spoke about his attendance policy, grades, plagiarism and COVID-19.
Mehler was unhappy with the university for its refusal to require COVID-19 vaccinations. He called the students “disease vectors” and said they did not need to attend classes in person.
“I won’t answer questions in class because I wear this…helmet to stay alive,” he said, referring to an astronaut-style helmet with air filters.
David Eisler, who was then Ferris State President, said he was “shocked and appalled”.
Mehler said his free speech rights were violated during his suspension.
“The idea was to get their juices flowing,” Mehler said in January, referring to the video and his students. “But they also knew that their grade was not based on predestination. It was just humorous.
Ferris State is located in Big Rapids, 250 kilometers northwest of Detroit.
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