The University of South Florida is an institution of higher learning located in Tampa, Florida, with branch campuses at St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Lakeland.
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The Al-Arian Controversy
USF became nationally prominent in 2001, when computer engineering professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian appeared on the popular polemical television show The O'Reilly Factor on September 26, 2001, shortly after the September 11th attacks. On the program, host Bill O'Reilly resurrected 15 year old charges that accused Al-Arian of using a now-defunct university affiliated Islamic think tank that he headed as a front for Palestinian terrorist organizations. USF and the INS had both long since completed formal investigations of that charge and found no wrongdoing; the FBI has been investigating Al-Arian off and on since, but no charges were ever filed. Though Al-Arian denied all links to terrorists, O'Reilly made it clear that he believed Al-Arian has terrorist connections.
Following the program's airing, USF received several death threats for Al-Arian. University president Judy Genshaft placed Dr. Al-Arian on paid leave and barred him from the campus on September 27, ostensibly for his own safety and the safety of others at the university.
After Dr. Al-Arian was formally terminated on February 27, 2003, representatives from the American Association of University Professors indicated that the AAUP does not feel that due process has been followed in Al-Arian's case, and that the organization will likely issue USF a formal censure at its annual meeting in June. Such a move will practically guarantee that no top professors will come to USF to teach.
See Sami Al-Arian for more information on the Al-Arian case.