Gregory Sullivan, a tenured professor at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, has been suspended and is facing dismissal after cracking a joke about James Holmes’ Aurora movie theater shooting rampage that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

New York Times:  After turning down the lights in his classroom at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Prof. Gregory F. Sullivan began showing a documentary and prepared to step out for a moment.

But first, according to an internal personnel document, he paused to make a parting joke: “If someone with orange hair appears in the corner of the room,” he is said to have remarked to his students, “run for the exit.”


One student’s father had been killed in the shootings. Hearing his teacher’s joke, the student left the room, obviously upset, according to the internal document.

Even though Sullivan issued an apology almost immediately, Dean Shashi Kumar wrote in a “notice of proposed removal” that those steps are not enough, and that he should be fired: “I find there is no lesser sanction to effectively address this misconduct.”