Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Marquette Touts Shoddy Faculty Committee Report: Our Lawyers Respond

Marquette has now released the Report of the Faculty Hearing Committee that reviewed our case. Interestingly, they did it without our permission, in spite of insisting for months that they could not do it without our permission.

Indeed, just last week, they asked the University Academic Senate for permission to release it, provided we agreed. The proposition they put to that group was:
• A motion to amend the confidentiality provisions governing Faculty Hearing Committee reports to allow their release (with appropriate redactions) upon request of the subject faculty member; or upon the request of the Faculty Hearing Committee (by majority vote) or university administration, with the consent of the subject faculty member
We, following the advice of our lawyer, have not released it. But now Marquette has released it unilaterally.

Why? Apparently, they have been feeling the heat of the bad publicity their actions have created, and they think it helps their case against us. But in fact, if anybody actually takes the time to read it, it becomes obvious how bogus that “case” becomes. Our legal team has issued the following press release outlining some of the problems.
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty Responds to Marquette’s Release of Faculty Report re: Professor McAdams

The Faculty Hearing Committee was biased from beginning; does not exonerate university, Lovell mishandling of issue

May 4, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Monday, in response to the lawsuit filed by suspended Marquette University professor John McAdams, Marquette University released the written report of its Faculty Hearing Committee. The FHC is supposed to be the guardian of a tenured faculty member’s procedural and substantive rights against the power of the University Administration. But as shown in the attachment, the FHC failed in its mission.

On behalf of Professor McAdams, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has objected from the beginning to the way in which Marquette has handled the entire matter. Those concerns were compounded by the composition and conduct of the FHC.

Marquette’s self-serving and selective references to the FHC report ignore the fact that the Committee did not exonerate the Administration. To the contrary, it found that Marquette’s summary suspension and banishment of Professor McAdams violated its own rules of conduct. And in many other respects the report is fatally flawed.
  • The FHC refused to follow requirements placed in the faculty statutes to ensure that tenured professors receive a fair hearing.
  • It permitted a clearly biased member to remain on the committee, did nothing to ameliorate the effects of a summary suspension it acknowledged was entirely improper, and refused to compel the administration to turn over evidence in its possession to assist Professor McAdams in preparing for its hearing.
  • Furthermore, it gutted Marquette’s contractual promise of academic freedom and free speech by making up rules after the fact to justify punishing Professor McAdams.
  • Finally, it lost sight of the fact that Dr. McAdams was standing up for a student who was being mistreated by a Marquette Instructor. Professor McAdams maintains that the academic freedom allegedly guaranteed by Marquette allowed him to write about any and all topics of public interest, in particular the mistreatment of an undergraduate student by his Instructor and the subsequent failure of the Administration even to consider his complaint.
A comprehensive response to the Faculty Hearing Committee and process can be found here.
So why would a faculty committee fail to uphold our academic freedom?

We have suggested two complementary theories: ideological bias and toadyism. One of the committee members, Dr. Lynn Turner, was allowed to remain on the committee in spite of having, along with other leftist faculty, signed a statement attacking us. And it attacked us not merely for the blog post about Abbate, but several other blog posts that have criticized leftist intolerance on campus. This, of course, is evidence that the Abbate affair was merely a pretext to get rid of a professor who has caused trouble by outing intolerant political correctness on campus.

The other element is probably toadyism. It’s a nice romantic notion that faculty will stand up for academic freedom, even the freedom of professors with whose ideas they disagree.  But in fact, the temptation to cozy up to an administration that controls budgets and can hand out all kinds of perks to favored faculty is huge.

That said, the Report may be a clumsy compromise between committee members who wanted us fired (which is what the University was demanding) and members who were willing to stand up for academic freedom. Given pressures for unanimity, both groups may have had to compromise on a one to two semester unpaid suspension.

The Report makes clear, however, that Lovell was being flatly dishonest in implying that his demand for an abject apology followed the committee’s recommendation. There is nothing whatsoever about any apology in the Report.

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