Steve Gunn, EAGNews.org
MILWAUKEE – Marquette University’s Faculty Hearing Committee acknowledged that Professor John McAdams, an outspoken conservative who was suspended for criticizing another instructor, was improperly investigated by a potentially biased former colleague, and wrongfully disciplined to satisfy political pressure.
McAdams, a professor in the university’s Political Science department, came under fire in 2014 when he used his online blog to criticize a graduate student instructor who refused to let an undergraduate student speak against gay marriage in a philosophy class.
The student instructor – Cheryl Abbate – received many harassing messages following the publication of McAdams’ blog, and eventually transferred to another university.
McAdams spoke out against the disturbing messages that Abbate received, but defended his right to blog freely about her actions, which he considered the latest example of progressive scholars censoring conservative speech on campus.
Marquette officials reacted by suspending McAdams indefinitely, banning him from campus, and signaling their intention to terminate his employment, according to media reports.
Earlier this year Marquette’s Faculty Hearing Committee (FHC) released a report recommending that McAdams keep his job, but be suspended through the fall 2016 semester. Marquette President Michael Lovell accepted that recommendation, as long as McAdams agreed to apologize for his actions.
McAdams refused, and instead filed a lawsuit against the university last week. Marquette officials responded by releasing the Faculty Hearing Committee’s report regarding McAdams.
The report outlines accusations of McAdams allegedly using his conservative blog to “bully” students and university employees, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But the newspaper report also notes that “McAdams was never reprimanded or given a written warning,” regarding any of those alleged incidents.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which is representing McAdams in the lawsuit, issued a press release accusing the Faculty Hearing Committee of conducting itself inappropriately while reviewing the case.
BIAS AND INACTION
The FHC report acknowledges that McAdams was improperly suspended following his criticism of Abbate because he did not have a hearing in advance of the decision, in accordance with faculty statutes.
The report even concluded that the suspension was in response to external political pressure, obviously from angry progressives.
“The purpose of the suspension appears not to have been to prevent immediate harm to Dr. McAdams or members of the University community, but rather to impose a summary sanction on Dr. McAdams to satisfy the demands of external and internal audiences,” the report said. “This is an improper use of the interim suspension power that violated Dr. McAdams’ right to due process under the Faculty Statutes.”
Yet the FHC did nothing to address the obvious injustice, according to WILL.
“The FHC granted Dr. McAdams no relief for the improper suspension and recommended no adverse action against the University for depriving Dr. McAdams of his rights,” the WILL document said.
The investigation into McAdams’ conduct was led by Dr. James South, a former chairperson of Marquette’s Philosophy Department, who was appointed by the university, according to WILL.
The FHC noted in its report that South had experienced “numerous prior incidents of conflict” with McAdams in the past, making his objectivity as an investigator highly suspect.
“The FHC concluded, however, that the decision by Marquette to have its official investigation into this matter led by Dr. James South was merely ‘unfortunate’ and entitled Dr. McAdams to no relief,” WILL wrote.
WILL also alleged that one of the members of the FHC was openly biased against McAdams:
“One of the seven members of the FHC in this case was Dr. Lynn Turner. Prior to the hearing in this matter, Dr. Turner signed an open letter critical of Professor McAdams and supportive of Ms. Abbate.
“The letter took positions on matters that were the direct topic of the subsequent hearing before the FHC. Professor McAdams requested that Dr. Turner be replaced with someone who had not already prejudged the matter but the FHC rejected his request.”
The FHC also recognized, but declined to respond to, the university’s refusal to provide McAdams with evidence against him, as well as a list of witnesses that would testify against him, according to WILL.
That violated the “disclosure requirements in the faculty statutes,” WILL reported.
“Dr. McAdams asked the FHC, itself, to either order the Administration to cooperate or alternatively for the FHC to assume that the documents that Marquette refused to turn over would contain information that favored Dr. McAdams,” WILL wrote. “The FHC declined to take either of these actions.
“…The FHC failed to ensure the University conducted an objective investigation of the events surrounding Dr. McAdams’ suspension and termination, and failed to ensure Dr. McAdams had full access to the witnesses and information needed to defend himself.”
WILL also accused the FHC of failing to defend academic freedom as established by numerous university rules.
While Marquette faculty statutes allow for the termination of faculty members for “discretionary cause,” that does not give the university the right to “impair the full and free enjoyment of legitimate personal or academic freedoms of thought, doctrine, discourse, association, advocacy, or action,” according to a different statute.
The WILL press release also cited a faculty statute that says “dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights guaranteed them by the United States Constitution.”
“Realizing all of this, the FHC concluded that Dr. McAdams could not be terminated for his blog post,” WILL wrote. “It recommended instead that he be suspended without pay for two semesters. Using suspension as an end-around, the FHC simply abandoned the defense of academic freedom and concluded that while Dr. McAdams could not be terminated, perhaps he (and others) could be silenced by a substantial penalty short of termination.”