Evan Axelbank reports
Back on the job
FAU Professor Deandre Poole.
Is FAU cooling a controversy or fueling one?
Tonight, they've given Professor Deandre Poole his job back.
Poole will be teaching American Multicultural Discourse.
He says a lot got lost in the uproar over the assignment that he gave that offered students the chance to step on a piece of paper with the word "Jesus" written on it.
"Is Jesus on a piece of paper, or is Jesus part of who you are?" said Poole. "I am (a Godly man), I was saved at a young age."
He also wants to set the record straight.
"Some in the media have said, stomp Jesus," said Poole. "I want to make it clear I never said stomp."
Poole's assignment ignited a firestorm after one student who refused to participate in the lesson spoke out.
There were protests and a letter from the governor.
Administrators placed Poole on paid leave because of safety concerns.
"If we are going to live peacefully in society, then we have to be able create settings where we can engage in these types of conversations, " said Poole.
The dean of Arts and Letters decided to reinstate Poole after months of pressure from professors arguing academic freedom is at stake.
Then-FAU President Mary Jane Saunders resigned, at least in part because of the controversy.
The dean of the College of Arts and Letters says the school strongly supports academic freedom.
"There is academic freedom but also academic responsibility," said dean Heather Coltan.
But Poole's rehiring doesn't stop all the anger.
Church of All Nations Pastor Mark Boykin called the re-hiring of Poole an insult.
He wont rule out more protests over this latest move.
"What next, spitting on the cross you get tenure?" said Boykin.
Poole says he is going to reach out to local church groups to mend fences.
Coltan says it's still not safe enough for him to teach on campus.
He'll be teaching those summer and fall courses online.
Coltan says in one classroom, she spoke to 23 students and twenty of them recommended that he be reinstated.