Today, Professor John McAdams sent a response to Marquette President Michael Lovell’s demand that McAdams admit that his actions were reckless and incompatible with Marquette’s mission and values – or be fired. McAdams is refusing to compromise his principles by admitting something he believes to be wrong.
This all began when McAdams wrote a blog post critical of a graduate instructor at Marquette who told an undergraduate student that expressing opposition to gay marriage was homophobic and would not be tolerated in her class. After the instructor started receiving hate mail, Marquette summarily suspended McAdams and banned him from campus without following the required procedure.
The university then initiated formal proceedings to discipline McAdams. President Lovell has now stated that he is suspending McAdams without pay and will fire McAdams unless he signs a letter by April 4 acknowledging that his blog post was “reckless” and expressing “deep regret for the harm suffered” by Abbate. Despite his claims that he is merely imposing the faculty committee’s recommendation, the committee recommended only the suspension.
President Lovell’s subsequent public statement claims that McAdams “inflicted” a “personal attack” on the graduate instructor, which is simply not true. McAdams’ blog post was critical, but neither rude nor incendiary. Lovell is trying to make McAdams vicariously responsible for the actions of others over whom he has no control. Despite his claims otherwise, that is the only ground Lovell is relying on to punish McAdams.
McAdams’ letter today rejects President Lovell’s demands. It states that McAdams believes his actions have always been consistent with Marquette’s values – in fact, he was protecting them by standing up for the undergraduate’s right to free academic discourse. It expresses regret that Abbate received such hateful emails, but denies that he was reckless or somehow responsible for others’ actions – academic freedom means nothing if a professor can be punished for the actions of third parties. It also highlights that the Faculty Hearing Committee concluded that Marquette violated the Faculty Statutes when it summarily suspended him and banned him from campus. Finally, the letter points out that Lovell’s demand that McAdams pen a mea culpa or be fired is itself a violation of the Faculty Statutes.
The full text of McAdams’ letter is available below.