Marquette remembers political science professor John McAdams

John+McAdams+passed+away+Thursday.++Marquette+Wire+stock+photo.

John McAdams passed away Thursday. Marquette Wire stock photo.

Associate professor of political science, John McAdams, died last Thursday, April 15 after teaching at Marquette for nearly 45 years. He was 75. 

McAdams was a “globally recognized scholar” on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and authored the 2011 book titled “JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think about Claims of Conspiracy” and the 2015 book titled “The New Class in Post Industrial Society.”

Prior to McAdams’ time at Marquette, he built up his credentials at three universities. 

A native to Alabama, McAdams began his studies at the University of Alabama in 1964, where he later received his bachelor’s in sociology, according to his curriculum vitae. McAdams then went on to Columbia University in 1970 where he received a master’s in social studies education, and then later received his doctorate in political science at Harvard University in 1981. 

While at Marquette, McAdams taught classes surrounding American politics, public opinion and voter behavior. 

A popular course of McAdams’ was “The Logic of Social Inquiry: The Kennedy Assassination,” a class where students got to examine who killed John F. Kennedy through evaluating competing theories. Due to COVID-19, this year the class was taught in a fully virtual format. 

“I looked forward to logging onto his class every single day to listen to him speak about the Kennedy assassination,” Nina Winkler, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences who took his class, said.“There was never a day that went by where he wasn’t equally as excited to teach his students as we were to learn.” 

Winkler said McAdams was a cornerstone to her Marquette education. 

“He was a worldly man, who had accomplished and seen more than most will ever,” Winkler said. “McAdams gave every student the opportunity to expand their thinking and remain in question of information presented, allowing each the chance to form an opinion for themselves.”

McAdams also authored the website “The Kennedy Assassination” and “Marquette Warrior,” a blog that later got McAdams suspended with pay and banned from Marquette due to a controversial post in which he criticized a teaching assistant by name for a disagreement she had with a student about gay marriage. 

McAdams later sued the university in 2016, won the case in 2018 and returned to the university in 2019 following a sabbatical in the fall of 2018. 

However, Gabe Fernandez, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he appreciated McAdam’s ability to never exclude students for the opinions they held. 

“He didn’t make students feel dumb or excluded for any opinions they had,” Fernandez said. “He was such a professional guy, it was awful to hear the news.” 

Looking forward, Winkler said McAdams will be deeply missed. 

“I will miss his insight, laugh and knowledge,” Winkler said. “But have nothing but the utmost appreciation for the time I was able to learn from him.”

University spokesperson Kevin Conway said that the university mourns the loss of McAdams after his long teaching tenure.

“The Marquette community extends its deepest sympathies and prayers to Dr. McAdams’ family, friends, colleagues and students,” Conway said.

This story was written by Claire Driscol. She can be reached at claire.driscol@marquette.edu