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Marquette University firing John McAdams over blog post

Marquette University will fire embattled professor John McAdams several months after he posted a blog critical of a student-teacher.  McAdams received a letter from the university this week detailing the school's decision.

\"They seem determined to go to the mat,\" McAdams said from his Shorewood home Thursday.  \"I did think that after all the controversy after they suspended me back in December that maybe they would just back off.\"

McAdams wrote a blog post in November after meeting with a student who was upset with graduate student teacher, Cheryl Abbate.  McAdams says Abbate silenced the student's opposition to gay marriage, skimming over the topic in class and then in a conversation with the student after.  The student recorded the conversation with Abbate on a cell phone and provided the recording to McAdams.  You can read McAdam's original post here.

Marquette first suspended McAdams in December.  Then, on a letter dated January 30, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Richard Holz wrote the professor a 15-page letter, announcing the school's decision to fire him.  McAdams posted the letter to his blog.

The letter reprimands McAdams for taking \"the opportunity publicly to disparage [Abbate]\" adding he used the student as a \"tool to further your agenda.\"

\"I assumed that Marquette's guarantees of academic freedom actually meant something,\" McAdams said.

Marquette President Michael Lovell issued a statement on Facebook Wednesday night saying \"Debate and intense discussion are at the heart of who we are as a university, but they must be balanced with respect.\"  The university declined to comment beyond the Facebook post.

\"I mean, what are those values?\" McAdams asked.  \"Pretending to be a catholic university as a marketing ploy while being fundamentally secular, is that a value?  Is it a value to not criticize anyone at Marquette University?\"

\"There are times that I agree with [John],\" communications professor Erik Ugland said.  \"This is not one of them.\"

Ugland says disagreements between students and professors happen all the time. But he thinks McAdams crossed a line when he named the graduate student involved.  Ugland says disagreements between professors and students need to be worked out behind closed doors, not online for the world to see.

\"The obligations that faculty have to be champions of and to care for and be concerned about the progress and success and failure of the student,\" Ugland said need to take precedence.  

\"This isn't a chilling precedent,\" Ugland said of the university's decision to fire McAdams.  \"This isn't going to hamper free speech in a broader sense.\"

McAdams doesn't believe he was obligated to offer any advice or advise the graduate student because she wasn't in his college within the school.  He refers to Abbate as a teacher, not a student.

McAdams plans to pursue every legal option available to save his job with Marquette, starting with an appeal.  The political science professor has been at Marquette since 1977.

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