Campus Reform | UPitt faces repercussions after prof is silenced for expressing unpopular view

UPitt faces repercussions after prof is silenced for expressing unpopular view

A professor at the University of Pittsburgh was targeted after writing an academic article arguing against affirmative action policies in the medical field.

The professor is suing the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after he was removed from his position at the medical center following a “systematic attack campaign."

Dr. Norman Wang, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, is suing the university and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after he alleges they targeted him for in a "systematic attack campaign" for writing an academic article critical of affirmative action.

The Center for Individual Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of Wang on December 15, and comes after the Department of Education alleged that the university targeted Wang “with a campaign of denunciation and cancellation.”

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As Campus Reform previously reported, Wang wrote an academic article for the Journal of the American Heart Association, in which he discussed his opposition to affirmative action policies within the field of medicine. The journal later retracted the article.

Following the article's publication, Wang was removed from his position as Program Director of the Electrophysiology Fellowship, according to at least two academics. The program's website no longer shows a biography for Dr. Wang.

Campus Reform reported in November that the Department of Education had opened an investigation into the university for a possible violation of Wang's "academic freedom," after multiple university and medical center employees criticized Wang's article and advocated for action to be taken against him.

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The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Division of Cardiology tweeted at the time that "@PittCardiology stands for diversity equity and inclusion across the board. This article uses misquotes, false interpretations and racist thinking to defend a single person’s conclusion.  We are outraged that @JAHA_AHA published this shameful and infuriating piece."

The lawsuit calls on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to reinstate Wang as the program director of the electrophysiology fellowship. It lists the American Heart Association as a defendant, as well as several university administrators. 

The University of Pittsburgh College of Health Sciences Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Margaret McDonald told Campus Reform previously that "there has been no change to Dr. Wang's position at the University of Pittsburgh...UPMC took action in this case, but the University did not. The University supports academic freedom, even when views expressed by faculty are inconsistent with the values of the University."

The Center for Individual Rights President Terry Pell told Campus Reform that Wang was punished for a "thoroughly researched article."

“Wang was not punished for an intemperate tweet, an inappropriate joke, or an offensive classroom comment," Pell said. "He was punished for publishing a thoroughly researched article in a peer-reviewed journal."

Pell further stated that it is “hard to imagine a greater threat to academic freedom than to punish scholars with retaliation and professional humiliation merely for presenting research that challenges conventional thinking as determined by a Twitter mob.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ajmunguia23