A faculty board of review has upheld the right of a suspended University of Maryland professor to refuse to take a psychiatric examination as a precondition of his returning to his academic duties.
In recommendation to the university's board of regents, the panel found "no medical evidence of psychosis" to support the order that the faculty member, associate physics professor Edgar F. Beall, be examined by a psychiatrist.
Beall told reporters yesterday that the panel affirming his refusal to take the exam was "primary victory in the case," which has been a focus of controversy at Maryland's College Park campus for more than a year.
The dispute began in May of 1977 when Beall, angered at what he considered insensitivity to repeated acts of vandalism against his office door, is said to have grabbed a colleague by the neck as if to strangle him.
Following that incident, Beall was orders to take a psychiatric examination and told he could not return to classes until a psychiatrist certified that he was not a "danger to yourself or others," When he refused the order dismissal proceedings were begun.
In its finding, the review panel found the psychiatric order "inappropriate" saying "expression of divergent or unusual positions may well be inhibited if the administration sanstion exists to have such viewpoints possibly examined psychiatrically to determine the sanity or their source."
It found Beall innocent of charges of wilful neglect of duty and incompetence, but guilty of misconduct and recommended that he be placed on probation for five years. Beall said he would appeal that issue to the board or regents.
Chancellor Robert L. Gluckstern, chief academic officer of the College Park campus, declined to comment on the case.
But Barba L. Bergmann, professor of economics and president of the College Park chapter of the American Association of University professors, said," . . . the committee adid a very thorough job. Their intent was not only justice to Professor Beall but preservation of academic freedom on this campus . . . People should not be punished just because somebody thinks they're crazy."