John McAdams won’t apologize for 2014 controversy

John McAdams. Wire stock photo.

Photo by Wire stock photo

John McAdams. Wire stock photo.

Suspended political science professor John McAdams said he will not comply with the option Marquette University provided for reinstating him after his role in a 2014 controversy that received national attention.

University President Michael Lovell told McAdams and Marquette faculty and staff on Thursday that he will allow McAdams to resume teaching after suspending him without pay and with benefits until the end of the fall 2016 semester. In addition, Lovell said McAdams needs to submit a letter by April 4 that apologizes for his previous conduct, admits it was wrong and promises that he won’t act similarly again.

McAdams responded to Lovell’s offer in a blog post on Saturday, noting how the offer came during spring break and a few days before Easter. He said the requirement of an apology is “obviously a ploy by Marquette to give the administration an excuse to fire us. They have calculated, correctly, that (I) will do no such thing.”

Rick Esenberg, McAdams’ lawyer, said future legal action against Marquette is “very possible.” He has not yet commented on how soon legal action could be taken. Last fall, McAdams said he would sue Marquette if the university tries to fire him.

In response to McAdams’ post, Chris Jenkins, associate director in the Office of Marketing and Communication, said, “we do not have further information to share given that this is a personnel matter.”

Controversy background

The controversy started in November 2014 when McAdams published a post on his blog, Marquette Warrior. The post detailed a story he heard about a disagreement over gay marriage between former teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate and one of her students. This post eventually caught the attention of the Westboro Baptist Church, which picketed campus in response on Dec. 8, 2014. Abbate received threats and criticism for her actions, leading her to leave Marquette.

After the picket, the College of Arts & Sciences announced that McAdams would be suspended while a conduct review of the situation took place. Shortly after, McAdams was notified that Marquette was starting the process of potentially firing him and taking away his tenure.

A faculty hearing committee met privately last fall to give its input regarding whether McAdams should be fired. It wrote a report that went to Lovell, who made the final decision.

Lovell said in his offer to McAdams that his decision is the same as the committee’s. However, McAdams claims that the committee’s confidential report doesn’t require that McAdams apologize.

“It only recommended we be suspended without pay for one or two semesters,” McAdams said about the report.