LEXINGTON—Mark Ransfield, a beleaguered Professor of Musicology at Northwest South Dakota State University, reached a $215,000 out-of-court settlement with the University of Kentucky. Ransfield, a devout and open follower of Yazidism, filed suit after he had been denied a job as the Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts. Confidential court documents, which surfaced early in the legal proceedings, revealed that Ransfield had been a leading candidate but was denied the job when the search committee decided his religious beliefs would interfere with his ability to guide curriculum and produce research in his discipline.
“I hate to see the university part with $215,000, but this is certainly better than having a fundamentalist and tenured Yazidist on faculty,” said Michael S. Tick, Dean of the College. “It’s in everyone’s best interests that we cut our losses and get out of this mess.” Tick indicated that several members of the UK administration wondered whether Ransfield’s arcane faith tradition would sully his role in leading a college that offered programs in humanistic disciplines like art and music.
At the fore of the lawsuit was the suggestion that Ransfield’s religion was hostile toward the interpretative liberties and creativity valued by the arts. Yazidism, a strange religion, purports that a seven-pronged holy deity is responsible for creating the earth. The religion bears many traces to staunch secular scientific empiricism and stipulates that all knowledge is able to be ascertained and expressed by human research. Each year, its estimated 425,000 followers worldwide make a pilgrimage to the Alter of Technology and Progress, where they present data in honor of the mysteries of the Gods.
“When the search committee named Ransfield as a finalist, we had seemed to overlook the fact that he is an unabashed Yazidist,” said a source close to the situation. “We immediately saw a conflict of interests between the College of Fine Arts’ goal to inspire creativity, critical thinking, and appreciation of beauty.”
Ransfield had published controversial articles that downplayed the appreciation of music and art, and he advocated for total allegiance to empirical evidence.
Ransfield declined to speak with The Colonel.