Marquette: McAdams to remain suspended until he apologizes

Marquette University is refusing to reinstate a conservative professor until he issues a formal apology for questioning criticizing a colleague’s classroom speech policies on his personal blog.

Dr. John McAdams has been on paid suspension since December 2014 for a blog post in which he calls out another instructor, Cheryl Abbate, for telling students not to dispute the propriety of gay marriage in class because it would be “homophobic” to express opposition to the idea.

According to Watchdog, Marquette legal counsel Ralph Weber sent a letter to McAdams’ attorney on January 12 affirming that McAdams will remain suspended indefinitely because he has not not complied with university President Michael Lovell’s demand that he release a statement admitting “guilt” and apologizing for violating Marquette’s “ Guiding Values.”

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The punishment was handed down following a Faculty Hearing Committee investigation, which according to Weber not only concluded “that Dr. McAdams engaged in a serious instance of irresponsible conduct,” but also that he had “set himself on a course” likely to lead to repetitions of the behavior in question.

“President Lovell adopted those findings and thus required Dr. McAdams to provide a statement containing three elements: (1) acknowledgement and acceptance of the judgment of his peers; (2) affirming and committing to adherence to the standards of higher education at Marquette; and (3) acknowledgement that his blog post was reckless and incompatible with the mission and values of Marquette, and expressing regret for the harm suffered by Ms. Abbate,” Weber says.

Weber claims that McAdams agreed in his contract that a committee of peers would review professional conduct and that “his conduct would be judged by ‘the standard of personal and professional excellence which generally characterizes University faculties,’” but complains that McAdams has demonstrated a disregard for that process.

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“Dr. McAdams thus far has made clear the he does not accept the standard of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes University facilities and therefore will not provide the necessary acknowledgements and commitments,” Weber writes. “His status with the University therefore is unchanged and he remains in suspended status.”

McAdams’ refusal to submit the apology letter is not surprising, however, as he almost immediately declared his intention to defy the order as soon as it was announced, calling it “a ploy on Lovell’s part to get me fired because he knows I won’t do any of that.”

His attorney, Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), echoed that suspicion in response to the latest letter from Marquette, describing the missive as the functional equivalent of a pink slip.

[RELATED: Marquette moves to fire tenured conservative professor for blog post]

“We believe that Marquette has effectively discharged Professor McAdams for accurate and civil (if pointed) speech on a matter of great public and institutional interest,” Esenberg told Watchdog. “This violates his contractual rights of personal expression and academic freedom. We look forward to vindicating John’s rights—and the rights of all dissenters at Marquette—in court.”

Both sides are expected to present motions before a judge on February 2, who will then issue a summary judgment, after which the case could result in a jury trial on June 19.

“There is no amount of money that they could offer me to get me to walk away. If they offered me $5 million, I don’t need $5 million,” McAdams told Watchdog. “It really is a matter of principle. I’m not going to let the bastards get rid of me.”

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