A tenured professor who was fired for writing a blog post that defended a student’s right to an opinion, has returned to work — and says he has no regrets or hard feelings.
Professor John McAdams was fired by Marquette University three years ago after he wrote a blog post defending a student who was told by another professor not to share his opinion on same-sex marriage in class, since that opinion ran counter to the liberal orthodoxy.
McAdams didn’t say he agreed with the student, just that the student should be able to express his opinion. For this, he was brought before a Faculty Hearing Committee that resembled the kangaroo courts that college students face for political correctness. Two of the members of the committee had conflicts of interest, McAdams insisted, but weren’t removed. The committee recommended he be suspended, but the president of the university, Michael Lovell, told McAdams to apologize for writing the blog post or be fired. McAdams refused to apologize for what was a simple academic argument, and was fired.
He sued, and after a three-year court battle (during which, a judge last year said the Catholic university was within its rights to fire a professor for defending a student who expressed an opinion that lined up with Catholic teachings), Marquette has grudgingly agreed to rehire him.
After the setback last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court took up McAdams’ case and ruled in the professor’s favor.
“The undisputed facts show that the University breached its contract with Dr. McAdams when it suspended him for engaging in activity protected by the contract’s guarantee of academic freedom,” the court wrote.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) spoke with McAdams after he returned to work, and found the professor harbors no ill will toward his employer.
“I’d feel hurt if I’d lost, but I won,” McAdams told FIRE.
McAdams is now working on a book, called “60 Politically Incorrect Things You Should Know.”
Marquette, on the other hand, is not happy with the court win, issuing a statement that said it still believes McAdams’ “behavior crossed a line,” and that it would “re-examine its policies, with the goal of providing every assurance possible that this never happens again.” As FIRE noted, this seems to suggest the university might “modify its faculty contracts to decrease their academic freedom.”
For now though, McAdams has his job back.