MU professor suing university over suspension

Posted at 10:00 AM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 13:28:08-04

MILWAUKEE -- Suspended Marquette professor John McAdams is suing the university for breach of contract.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, McAdams alleges Marquette suspended him illegally, without cause and the due process required under his contract.

“Marquette made it difficult, if not impossible, for Professor McAdams to defend his rights under the contract and to protect his reputation,” the lawsuit claims.

McAdams was suspended after writing a blog post in 2014, in which he criticized a graduate student that was employed by the university as faculty.

The graduate student was recorded telling one of her students, who opposed same sex marriage, that the issue of gay marriage could not be debated in a philosophy class because it might offend any gay students enrolled in the course.

McAdams blog post set off a flurry of backlash against the graduate student through social media. McAdams said he merely was writing the truth and did not encourage any of the offensive messages or postings directed at the student.

The school eventually called on McAdams to write a letter of apology in order to be reinstated, but he said he has done nothing wrong and won’t do that.

“Marquette insists that (McAdams) utter a false statement or be fired,” the lawsuit reads.

At a news conference Monday, McAdams said losing the suit would set a terrible precedent at higher education institutions everywhere.
“It would set the precedent tenure doesn't mean very much. That they can get mad at a professor for doing something they don't like but doesn't violate any rules,” McAdams said.

McAdams and his attorney said they’re seeking monetary damages but didn’t go into details on how much. They also said their top priority is getting McAdams reinstated at Marquette.

“If they could just pay me off, they'd be happy to, but that'd be a loss for academic freedom,” McAdams said.

In a statement, Marquette University said, “We welcome this issue being addressed in court, where the public will hear a comprehensive account of Dr. McAdams’ mistreatment of our former graduate student, rather than the select details he has handpicked to promote his false narrative.”

“Once all the facts are made clear, Marquette fully expects that the decision to suspend him will be upheld,” the statement said.

“Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about the attention that Dr. McAdams and his legal team continue to focus on our former graduate student. He continues to call her out by name in his blog, and even recently went out of his way to name the university where she is continuing her studies today. These actions have exposed her to additional harassment, more than a year after she left Marquette,” the University said.

“Our main goal throughout this process has been to ensure that no other Marquette student is ever subjected to an extensive public shaming campaign by a member of our faculty,” the statement said.