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John McAdams says Marquette starting process to dismiss him from faculty

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John McAdams, associate professor of political science

John McAdams, associate professor of political science

Political science professor John McAdams said on his blog Wednesday that Marquette started the process to revoke his tenure and dismiss him from the faculty.

McAdams, known as a outspoken conservative on campus, was relieved of his teaching duties over winter break after publicly criticizing a teaching assistant for not allowing discussion about gay marriage in class. The university opened a review of his conduct and temporarily banned him from campus in the duration of the review.

The incident received national attention and sparked protests from the Westboro Baptist Church and student groups in December.

The teaching assistant, Cheryl Abbate, a graduate student studying philosophy, has since transferred from Marquette and moved to the University of Colorado-Boulder because of the incident.

“Your conduct clearly and substantially fails to meet the standards of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes university facilities,” said Richard Holz, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, in a letter to McAdams’ lawyer. “As a result, your value to this academic institution is substantially impaired.”

Holz also said in the letter that McAdams did not recognize Abbate as “a person to be treated respectfully and with dignity” and that McAdams “used her as a fool to further (his) agenda.”

The letter also said McAdams has the option to object to the decision in a timely manner. If he decides to do that, Marquette will provide conferences with the university’s Faculty Hearing Committee.

“In real universities, administrators understand, or more likely grudgingly accept, that faculty will say controversial things, will criticize them and each other, and that people will complain about it,” McAdams said on his blog. “They understand that putting up with the complaints is part of the job, and assuaging those who complain the loudest is not the best policy. That sort of university is becoming rarer and rarer. Based on Holz’ actions, Marquette is certainly not such a place.”

McAdams has been a political science professor at Marquette since 1977.

University President Michael Lovell issued the following statement on the university’s Facebook page Wednesday night:

Until all procedures required under university rules and policies are complete, we will not publicly disclose further details. I do, however, want to reinforce important principles that I have discussed previously that will be at the forefront of our efforts going forward. The decisions here have everything to do with our guiding values and expectations of conduct toward each other and nothing to do with academic freedom, freedom of speech, or same-sex marriage. As I noted in my recent Presidential Address, our guiding values were drafted with extensive input from our campus community to keep us all accountable and to provide the foundation for a collegial environment based on mutual respect.”

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19 Responses to “John McAdams says Marquette starting process to dismiss him from faculty”

  1. Cheryl Abbate on February 5th, 2015 12:09 am

    Thank you to the Marquette University administration for demonstrating an unwavering commitment to protecting vulnerable members of the Marquette community, including graduate students and women. I hope that other universities look to Marquette for guidance regarding how they might ensure that academia is a safe space for women and what steps should be taken when a faculty member in a position of power abuses that power. I know that because of Marquette’s commitment to justice and respect, many women in academia, especially philosophy, have renewed hope and faith that academia will one day be a safe, respectful, and nurturing place for women. Thank you, Marquette, for setting a precedent for other universities that are confronting (or will confront) similar faculty transgressions.
    -Cheryl Abbate

  2. dtobias on February 6th, 2015 7:32 pm

    Does a “safe space” mean that people of “protected classes” are to be free from all criticism?

  3. FlameCCT on February 9th, 2015 5:58 pm

    Vulnerable members of the Marquette community? Like the undergrad student who was oppressed by your ideology and suppression of speech, which speech is directly in line with the Jesuit theology? What about your faculty transgressions? Are you not responsible for your inappropriate actions?

    It appears that you support the philosophy (ideology) of Bernays and Lippman; tell a lie, big enough, loud enough, and often enough, so it becomes accepted. Both Marquette and you will be sadly disappointed when your attempts to stifle speech are rejected and precedent is set whereby universities can once again become places where people can support/oppose ideas and challenge orthodoxy.

    Ms. Abbate, you have become that which you supposedly oppose.

  4. TrscoopFO on February 14th, 2015 4:53 pm

    Impose blasphemy law and take away Americans’ First amendment rights so you can feel safe. No one else matter. This is the result of totalitarian leftists from the non-West running the show.

  5. George Kimball on May 25th, 2015 12:24 am

    Unfortunately, it’s actually the totalitarian leftists from the West — who have taken over the universities. If Ms. Abbate gets out of university fantasyland, discovers reality and makes her long remaining journey to adulthood, she will be deeply ashamed.

  6. Walter-marie Miller on February 5th, 2015 1:06 pm

    I think that it is everyone’s hope that this dismissal of Dr. McAdams goes to the Faculty Hearing Committee, and, there, is universally rebuked. McAdams is the most important, most powerful professor at Marquette, hands down. This is a despicable Stalinist purge. Ms. Abbate is regrettably being used as a front by P.C.-Stalinists who are, as it is well-known, entrenched at Marquette.

    If the administration is unable to fire McAdams it will be the most glorious victory for freedom in academe, ever. Because it will come from inside Daniel’s lion’s den. Yes, Marquette is the most squalid, filth-filled gutter in American academia. Suppliance, correctitude-loving bureaucrats, thought-reformist, complainant, duplicitous faculty, a crappy basketball team,–and Blo’s closed, not to mention Glocca Mora and Heg’s.

    I knew the place was bogus first day I got there and there was no McDonald’s in the student union. What a jip. Marquette is rightly a national laughingstock.

    I see the “new” logo–which was introduced in 2005–and I think, “That stands for “political correctness.”

    “We love conformist thinking at Marquette” is what I think when I see that logo, and you should too. “We strive for sterile, antiseptic tameness and obedience, just look at our shiny new smiling, safe president”–another good one.

    “Hey, it’s your smiling buddy, Stalinist-abiding President Lovell everybody, look at my immaculate record! Let’s go for a jog!”

    Purging McAdams a la Josef Stalin (one of Tbilisi’s most promising ordinands) is, as Justice Douglas put it, “A long step down the totalitarian path.”

    I wish I only had a high school diploma.

    Marquette ’06

  7. Rusty on February 5th, 2015 5:34 pm

    The way you write makes me think you only have a high school diploma.

  8. Walter-marie Miller on February 5th, 2015 5:42 pm

    good one

  9. Rusty on February 5th, 2015 6:09 pm

    As good as your claim that the most important and powerful professor at Marquette is a guy who’s about to be fired?

  10. Walter-marie Miller on February 5th, 2015 6:12 pm

    No not that good

  11. Kenneth on February 12th, 2015 5:44 pm

    You lost credibility as a commentator the moment you made an assumption of what result everyone is hoping for. I sincerely regret that you graduated from Marquette. Don’t dare judge the quality of the prestigious school when you clearly have no quality in rhetoric.

    I would love to provide you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you’ve left the campus far too long to recognize all the good Marquette is all about. Or perhaps you wish to see what you want to. Either way, your loss.

    You should have transferred.

  12. George Kimball on May 25th, 2015 12:33 am

    If you can’t smell a witch-hunt here, you need to see an ear-nose-throat doc.

  13. JK on February 5th, 2015 6:49 pm

    I give low marks to everyone in this drama

  14. TrscoopFO on February 14th, 2015 4:50 pm

    JK There’s nothing stupid about objection to gay marriage. Gays have never been forbidden from entering into heterosexual marriages. Domestic relations laws have protected gays equally. The “stupid” description goes applies to those unwilling to follow the legal processes in place in all fifty states. CA and MA conducted referenda and both rejected gay marriage. There is an amendment process that gay rights radicals know they cannot accomplish. The rule of law is anathema to the totalitarian enemies of the Constitution who seek arbitrary imposition instead of legal process. “Stupid” is an adjective you don’t understand or are too dishonest to apply accurately, JK.

    Safety schools in nowheresville flyoverland like Marquette seem to believe that mindlessly conforming to what real schools do will make them better. Marquette is still a school that doesn’t matter in a place that doesn’t matter. It’s frustrating to see that non-assimilated Irish Catholic filth are proving right those who correctly pointed out that non-WASPs are incapable of abiding by legal process and individual liberty. Fascism is a catholic phenomenon. It was never politically viable in any predominantly Protestant country – never garnering more than 10% of the popular vote, hence, Ireland’s de facto stand with the Axis Power by sending emissaries to Germany as it refused British and American warships berth and provided aid and quarter to catholic fascist pilots.

  15. Bob Franklin on March 25th, 2015 9:06 am

    Spot on. As one who has extensively researched the JFK assassination I’m rather familiar with McAdams’ manner of responding to those with whom he disagrees – more so than I would wish, in fact. I think he’s a complete & utter twit, but he is correct on the issue of free speech in this case, as much as it aggrieves me to find myself in accord with anything that issues forth from his mouth. He simply chose his usual path of buffoonery in his response. As to Cheryl Abbate, she’s just another P.C. zealot, hardly worth the effort of a response. The worst of the bunch IMHO is Holz, who seemingly couldn’t find the courage to stand up for the 1st amendment. disappointing behavior all around.

  16. Walter-marie Miller on February 5th, 2015 9:00 pm

    Dr. Owen Goldin is a signatory against McAdams on the dailynous blog.

    He is also a member of the Faculty Hearing Committee – the faculty committee with final authority over faculty terminations.

    Dr. Goldin should, under no circumstance, hear evidence in a matter in which he has already made plain his prejudice.

    Email Dr. Goldin ( asking for his resignation from the Faculty Hearing Committee.

    His continuance on the committee would be a scandal.

    Are students to now be Mentored in the permissiveness of Kangaroo Courts?

  17. FlameCCT on February 9th, 2015 5:46 pm

    University President Michael Lovell has violated university rules and policies, over and over again, in regards to this one incident.

  18. David Lovell on May 18th, 2015 8:53 pm

    To those of you babbling about free speech, it might be useful to keep in mind that Marquette University is a private institution. The first amendment (the fountainhead of “free speech”) prevents the government from interfering with your speech. It does not prevent private entities from doing so. People get confused and lump all kinds of universities together, particularly public with private, when there is a large distinction. Public universities are “the government,” and therefore are required to abide by very strict constraints with respect to how much they can govern speech. Private universities are not obliged to do the same. As long as they follow their own policies and employment law, they can revoke his tenure and fire him if they want. A lesson for you wanna be faculty bloviators: get a job at a public university.

  19. George Kimball on May 25th, 2015 12:14 am

    David Lovell, a number of issues: Public universities have also been quite willing to institute speech codes and other sorts of abuse of the Constitution. Marquette certainly receives significant amounts of federal money, whether for research grants, campus academic centers, federal medical programs, etc. It is obviously very sketchy to hold that as an organization the school is not required to live up to the standards of federal law – it already has to with regard to EEOC policy.

    Employment law, you rightly note, is the key issue. IDK Wisconsin law, but a key notion in labor laws is what contractual relationship exists between employer and employee. It would be very hard to argue that a professor with decades of tenured service from a school that granted him tenure can be fired ‘at will’. Marquette needs a cause. That is why the school is trying so hard to advance an obviously pretextual claim that the issue is ‘endangerment’ of the instructor.

    That claim is obviously constructive nonsense: the incident occurred while Cheryl Abbate was acting in the role of instructor, not of student, and the incident grew directly out of her supervisory assertion of authority over the student’s speech. The school claims, in effect, that she was an instructor with solely the status of a student. The very notion that her anonymity was violated by McAdams when she was in a public role visible to all is facially ridiculous. The claim that McAdams is derelict because the future actions of unknown persons is just silly. A standard that ephemeral would apply to any faculty or administration member who ever mentioned the name of any student – like a list of football players, a Dean’s list or a playbill for a campus production with student actors.

    The reaction of the university is obviously an attempt to suppress conservative views on the campus, engage in a vendetta and make an example of how critics will be treated.

    As to Ms. Abbate, she appears to be the standard product of what the left will tolerate as university teachers – intolerant and narcissistic to where decency, common sense and basic logic have been beaten out of them. If Cheryl Abbate wants to bring any legitimacy to this mess in her name, she should stand up and say she is being used to justify an ideologically based posse out to hang Prof. McAdams. She should apologize to McAdams for being involved in something so vicious and ugly.

    Ms. Abbate, should you happen to read this, understand that before this makes any sense to you, you will have to grow up a great deal and abandon the adolescent narcissism that underlies your behavior, not that it is unusual in universities. I hope you have the strength of character and integrity do so.

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