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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Marquette to Fire Tenured Professor for His Blogging

McAdamsFollowing up on my previous post, Marquette Suspends Tenured Professor for Blogging, Orders Him Off Campus:  Inside Higher Ed, Firing a Faculty Blogger:

A controversial professor on Wednesday revealed that Marquette University is trying to revoke his tenure and fire him for statements he made about a graduate instructor, with her name, on his blog.

The university says his behavior was unprofessional and that he misled the public about what happened in a dispute between the graduate instructor and an undergraduate student. The professor, John McAdams, says he is being punished for his free speech. He also maintains that Marquette shouldn't be attacking him, given that he is defending an undergraduate's views against gay marriage that are consistent with Roman Catholic teachings. (Marquette is a Jesuit university.) ...

In November, McAdams, an associate professor of political science, wrote a blog post accusing a teaching assistant in philosophy of shutting down a classroom conversation on gay marriage based on her own political beliefs. His account was based on a recording secretly made by a disgruntled student who wished that the instructor, Cheryl Abbate, had spent more time in class one day on the topic of gay marriage, which the student opposed. McAdams said Abbate, in not allowing a prolonged conversation about gay marriage, was “using a tactic typical among liberals,” in which opinions they disagree with “are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.” ...

McAdams on Wednesday posted a letter he received from his dean, Richard C. Holz, in which Holz told McAdams the university was starting the firing process.

"Tenure and academic freedom carry not only great privileges but also vital responsibilities and obligations," Holz wrote. "In order to endure, a scholar-teacher's academic freedom must be grounded on competence and integrity, including accuracy 'at all times,' a respect for others' opinions, and the exercise of appropriate restraint. Without adherence to these standards, those such as yourself invested with tenure's power can carelessly and arrogantly intimidate and silence the less-powerful and then raise the shields of academic freedom and free expression against all attempts to stop such abuse. ...

Of particular distress to Holz, McAdams described the undergraduate as dropping the class Abbate taught, at her invitation, after she said that "in this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated." That description set the tone for bloggers elsewhere to suggest Abbate was forcing out of her class students with whom she disagreed.

Wrote Holz: "That is false. As you knew or should have known ... , the student told the university three days after withdrawing that he had done so because he was getting an 'F' at mid-term. He further specifically agreed that his grade fairly reflected his performance and had nothing to do with his political or personal beliefs. Similarly, by leaving out any reference to Ms. Abbate's follow-up class discussion in which she acknowledged and addressed the student's objection to gay marriage, you created a false impression of her conduct and an inaccurate account of what occurred. You either were recklessly unaware of what happened in the follow-up class, or you elected not to include these facts in your Internet story." ...

The name of McAdams' blog is Marquette Warrior and he indicated on the blog Wednesday that he intends to take on the university. "We will indeed fight this," he wrote. "We have excellent legal counsel, and most certainly will not go quietly."

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/02/marquette-to-revoke-tenure-of-professor-for-his-blogging.html

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