UCF Professor: I Was Fired Over Offensive Book

WKMG-TV (Orlando), Nov. 16, 2010

“Younger blacks prefer the term African American, whereas older African Americans may use the terms Negro or colored.”

Statements like that in “The Guide to Culturally Competent Health Care” are meant to teach nursing students how to interact with patients from different cultures, but former University of Central Florida professor Dr. Nancy Rudner Lugo believes the book is racially offensive and loaded with inaccurate stereotypes.

After complaining about the book to school officials in April 2008, Rudner Lugo claims the university refused to renew her teaching contract.

According to a federal lawsuit filed against UCF’s Board of Trustees, Rudner Lugo claims she and her students were troubled by several generalizations in the book, such as “most (Haitians) do not respect clock time. . .punctuality is not valued.”

The book also states that, in the Cuban culture, “Being overweight is seen as positive, healthy, and sexually attractive,” and “Some Mexicans use alcohol to make them emotionally and socially extroverted and are more likely to engage in binge drinking.”

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According to the lawsuit, UCF originally claimed that Rudner Lugo had received extremely poor evaluations from her own students. She said university officials later accused her of refusing to accept a teaching assignment. However, the former professor claims she was terminated from UCF because she tried to get the book removed from the nursing program curriculum.

University officials are unable to comment on the specific allegations made in Rudner Lugo’s lawsuit. However, according to a university spokesman, “The UCF College of Nursing’s curriculum aims to provide students with the best resources and guidance available so they are well prepared to care for patients of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.”

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The university said the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reviewed a complaint about the dismissal and said it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of statutes.”

UCF Assistant Vice President Grant Heston said the university believes the lawsuit is without merit.

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