Posted on October 15, 2004

UL Professor Accused of Threats

7 KPLC (Lafayette, La.), October 13, 2004

It started just after they walked into Professor Louis Houston’s physics class at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“He slammed the door and started yelling ‘F-you’ and different profanities at us. Then he told us if we got out of our seats he’s gonna kill us. He went on the black board and wrote 911 now, so we were really in fear for our lives.” According to Kacie Spears and another student in the class.

Things just got out of control from there. Among other things, Houston allegedly slapped one student and announced to the class that he was “God.” After class ended, several students called campus police.

Houston was taken into custody for questioning and classes were cancelled in Broussard hall where the incident happened. A bomb-sniffing dog was called into to check the building. No explosives were found.

Students also say this isn’t the first time professor Houston has acted in a strange manner.

Dr. Houston is still being questioned by campus police. So far he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

UL Lafayette Professor Was Suspended Before

Lafayette Daily Advertiser, October 15, 2004

The UL Lafayette physics professor suspended Wednesday for his erratic behavior was suspended last fall after students filed complaints about his classroom behavior.

Louis Houston, a tenured UL Lafayette physics professor, was removed from campus Wednesday after allegedly threatening his students and making references to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He has been suspended and banned from campus pending further investigation into the incident. University Police transported Houston late Wednesday afternoon to an in-patient facility after his mental health evaluation at Lafayette coroner’s office, according to Julie Dronet, director of public relations at UL Lafayette.

Last fall, students complained Houston made “odd remarks” in class, including remarks about God, Dronet said.

“The university decided to have him checked out,” Dronet said. “Before (he) returned to class he was seen by a medical doctor who said he was fine to return to class.”

For that incident, Houston was suspended for two weeks, but the suspension time led into the intercession between semesters. He returned to the classroom for spring classes under the oversight of a mentor, John Meriwether, head of the physics department.

“There were never any signs of danger, threats or anything like that,” Dronet said. “I think everything was fine until yesterday.”

Meriwether is out of town with students at a conference.

“Up until this week, John Meriwether was telling me that things were going fine in the classroom,” said Bradd Clark, dean of the College of the Sciences. “I was a bit shocked about this week.”

Students reported that Houston began cursing at the class and even slapped a student’s arm. He also reportedly made references to the attacks on Sept. 11 and told students they had died and gone to heaven.

The university has counselors ready to talk with students about the situation, Clark said.

“We’re very concerned about the students and their comfort,” Clark said. “We care very much about our students and we’ll take care of any pressures they may feel by this outburst.”

The campus police is in charge of the investigation. Further action against Houston awaits the outcome of the investigation, Clark said.

“I hope that the community understands that we live in a world where unexpected and unfortunate things happen, but this is a community, UL, which will always take care of students and their needs,” Clark said.

Houston has taught at the university since 1994. This semester, he taught two lower-level physics courses, a lab course and directed student research.

Fellow professors have stepped in to take Houston’s classes, Clark said.

“He’s a likable person,” Dronet said. “On campus, he’s been highly respected. It has saddened the university that this has occurred for him.”

In the past 13 years, Dronet could not recall any other incident on campus between a faculty member and students that escalated to the point that the police were called to intervene.

Clark described Houston as a “fine mind. A person that we hoped to be a role model as a black physicist. We care about him. We watched him as an undergraduate develop.”