UNCW reaches $500k settlement with retiring prof amid calls for his firing

Saratelli announced that the university made a settlement to avoid spending any additional university funds on lawsuits.

UNCW professor faced national outrage and calls for his removal over a controversial tweet.

The University of North Carolina-Wilmington has reached a settlement with one of its longtime professors, stating in a campus email that Adams, a professor of sociology and criminology, would be given $504,702 for lost salary and retirement benefits.

Adams came under fire in May due to his controversial tweet in which he wrote about feeling “like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina.”

[RELATED: UCLA lecturer’s job in jeopardy after refusing ‘accommodations’ for black students]

Students created a petition in response calling for Adams to be fired, which amassed more than 60,000 signatures.

Famous actors and actresses also tweeted out their support for the removal of Adams.

UNCW made a statement in early June defending Adams’ right to free speech. The university wrote that “no matter how upsetting and distasteful the comments may be, they are expressions of free speech and protected by the First Amendment.”

[RELATED: Prof retires after university publicly condemns ‘vile’ tweets condemning BLM, lockdown]

According to Chancellor Jose Sartarelli, UNCW had three choices when deciding how to handle the controversy. 

The university could have continued to employ him and have its reputation damaged in the eyes of Adams’ critics, it could have, fired Adams and face a First Amendment lawsuit, or reach a settlement. Saratelli stated that the university was not willing to fire Adams over legal and financial concerns. UNCW had previously lost a First Amendment lawsuit to Adams in 2014, costing the school nearly $700,000.

Since Adams planned to retire in the near future, Adams and UNCW reached a settlement worth more than $500,000. 

Saratelli told WNCT9, “In addition to saving money, the settlement will prevent the continued disruption to our educational mission, reduce concerns around campus safety, and lessen the harm to the institution. Dollars are precious, but our institutional integrity is priceless.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KestecherLacey