March 24, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Last winter, Marquette University announced that it would move to terminate Professor John McAdams. As required by the University’s Faculty Statutes, a hearing was held before a Faculty Hearing Committee. The Committee made a recommendation earlier this year. Today Marquette University President Michael Lovell announced that it would follow that recommendation, although it will not say what that recommendation was. The steps taken today by the University are inimical to academic freedom and, in fact, are not limited to following the recommendation of the Faculty Hearing Committee.
Today, the University ignored that its almost sixteen-month suspension of Dr. McAdams was improper. While it followed the recommendation that he be suspended, it also imposed a requirement that, within two weeks, he admit his “guilt.” If he refuses to do so, he will not be reinstated. Such a requirement of self-abasement and compelled speech was not recommended by the Faculty Hearing Committee.
The Committee found that Marquette had improperly suspended Dr. McAdams in violation of his due process rights under the Faculty Statutes and disagreed with the University’s desire to terminate him. It did recommend that he be suspended for one to two semesters, with benefits, but without pay.
In its lengthy report, the Faculty Hearing Committee gave lip service to academic freedom but made it subject to a multi-factor after-the-fact balancing test that would leave members of the university with no real guidance or protection other than the sufferance of their colleagues. In other words, University faculty retain freedom of speech only so far as their colleagues are willing to tolerate it.