HARTFORD (AP) — A community college fired a business professor Thursday accused of comparing education officials to Nazis by shouting in German and giving a Nazi salute for more than 10 minutes at a faculty and administrators’ meeting.
Paul Broadie II, president of Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, announced the firing of Charles Meyrick, saying a school investigation determined the assistant professor committed “serious misconduct.”
Officials said the Nov. 2 disruptions at Manchester Community College, where faculty and administrators of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system were meeting about school consolidation, were part of “increasingly alarming behavior” by Meyrick, including his being disruptive at prior meetings.
“Mr. Meyrick’s actions took place just days after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and triggered several participants to exit the facility out of fear for their safety,” said Mark Ojakian, president of the colleges and universities system. “Our state colleges and universities aim to foster a welcoming learning environment, and these threatening actions go far beyond acceptable discourse.”
Messages seeking comment were left for Meyrick on Thursday.
According to the school investigation report, Meyrick acknowledged he shouted “sieg heil,” a German phrase for “hail victory” noted for its use at Nazi rallies, and gave a Nazi salute from his seat in the crowd in the auditorium as a way to show the meeting’s leaders that their effort to silence his dissent was “tyrannical and wrong.”
Meyrick and a college system official got into an argument about consolidating curriculum, and the official asked Meyrick to leave because of his disruptive behavior, including his calling the official a liar, the report said. Meyrick saw the request to leave as officials trying to stop him from expressing his opinion, the report said.
Police said they were called to the auditorium and after the meeting asked Meyrick to leave campus. Meyrick responded by asking, “What if I don’t?” and a lieutenant told him he’d be arrested, police said. Two officers then escorted him from campus without incident.
Investigators said Meyrick told them he characterized the salute and Nazi statement as “miscalculations.” Asked why he kept his hand up so long, Meyrick said he began questioning his own behavior and needed time to contemplate how to get out of the situation. He put his hand down when the official he had argued with asked him if he had a question, the report said.
Meyrick also told investigators he was willing to apologize and did not mean any harm.
Meyrick began teaching at the community college in 2009 after working in finance for IBM for 34 years, according to his biography on the school’s website.