Catholic culture wars: The soap opera at Marquette University continues…


The suspended Marquette University political science professor who asserted “Marquette…has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression,” has received a 16-page letter from the Dean of Marquette’s Klinger School of Arts and Sciences, Richard Holz.

In his letter, Dean Holz notes that “Marquette University is commencing the process to revoke your tenure and to dismiss you from the faculty.” Why? Holz continues:

…your conduct clearly and substantially fails to meet the standards of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes University faculties. As a result, your value to this academic institution is substantially impaired.

The brouhaha began last fall when the professor, John McAdams, posted an article in his blog, the “Marquette Warrior,” voicing his concern about the way the concept of social justice is communicated and typically understood at Marquette. McAdams noted how opposition to hot-button issues—like abortion and same-sex marriage—is not a part of the University’s version of social justice. “On the contrary, any opposition to gay marriage is called ‘homophobia,’” McAdams wrote.

Holz’s letter details the results of an investigation into the events leading McAdams to post that article and what transpired in the aftermath of his posting that article. Holz contends that McAdams’ conduct was not only unprofessional but that he also misled the public about what happened in a dispute between the graduate instructor and an undergraduate student that McAdams described in his article. Worse yet, McAdams published the graduate instructor’s name.

In a new post, McAdams responds to each charge, claiming that he is being punished for his free speech. McAdams also maintains that the problem isn’t him—he is simply defending an undergraduate’s views against gay marriage that are consistent with Roman Catholic teachings—but with those who are tolerant only of what is not Roman Catholic teaching. McAdams closes by noting:

Campus bureaucrats hate controversy, since it makes trouble for them. Thus the most “valuable” faculty members are the ones who avoid controversy, and especially avoid criticizing administrators.

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. 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.

With what McAdams calls “excellent legal counsel,” he vows to fight Holz. McAdams states that he “most certainly will not go quietly.”




To read Professor McAdams’ post announcing his suspension, click on the following link:

To read Dean Holz’s letter to Professor McAdams, click on the following link:

To read  Professor McAdams’ original post, click on the following link:

To read Professor McAdams’ latest post, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:

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  1. The intolerant liberals, but I repeat myself, who run Marquette are about to get a rude legal awakening. Colleges and Universities often adopt bloviating feel good policy statements to make themselves look good. For instance here is the Marquette policy on academic freedom:

    “Academic freedom is prized as essential to Marquette University and to
    its living growth as a university. Professorial academic freedom is that
    proper to the scholar-teacher, whose profession is to increase knowledge
    in himself/herself and in others. As proper to the scholar-teacher,
    academic freedom is grounded on competence and integrity.

    When scholar-teachers carry on their academic lives in educational
    institutions, integrity requires both respect for the objectives of the
    institution in which they choose to carry on their academic lives and
    attention to the task of reevaluating these objectives as a necessary
    condition of living growth in human institutions.

    The University, because it prizes academic freedom, proposes the
    following safeguards* to that freedom:

    (a) The teacher is entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of results, subject to the adequate performance of
    his/her other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of
    the institution.

    (b) The teacher is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing his/her subject. This freedom must be integrated with the right of
    the students not to be victimized and the rights of the institution to have its accepted aims respected.

    (c) The college or university teacher is a citizen, a member of a learned profession, and an officer of an educational institution.
    When he/she speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but his/her special
    position in the civil community imposes special obligations. As a man/woman of learning and an educational officer, he/she should remember that the public may judge his/her profession and
    institution by his/her utterances. Hence, he/she should at all times
    be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort
    to indicate that he/she is not an institutional spokesperson.”

    Courts normally view such policy statements as creating a contractual obligation between a university and its employees. This policy alone should be sufficient for a Court to squelch this attempt by the powers that be at Marquette to play Grand Inquisitor.

  2. Catholic wars? Since we are either with Him or against Him, there can only be wars against Catholics….regardless of what others choose to call themselves.

  3. Thank you Mr. McClarey.
    Grampa Frank raised his nine children on Catholicism Hard Work and Love of neighbor. My Pa was the eldest. I owe them all so much for their Solid Faith and Love. Faith of Our Fathers Holy Faith….

  4. Bloviation! I couldn’t read that whole thing Mr. McClarey! 🙂
    A member of my family from a few generations ago is credited with using that term- President Warren Harding- whom I know you do not hold in high esteem, but:
    Bloviation is a style of empty, pompous political speech particularly associated with Ohio due to the term’s popularization by United States President Warren G. Harding, who described it as “the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing”. The verb “to bloviate” is the act of creating bloviation.

  5. If I were the suspended professor, I would sue the University and the Administrator separately. They are talking away the Professors freedom of Speech and freedom of Religion, plain and simple.

    Those unbelieving heretics at that University/College need to join another religion, such as the Episcopal Church of America, or some other so called group of non believers in the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  6. Rev.Deacon Joseph A. Pasquella

    Maybe they don’t want—not only “another religion”–but any religion?

    My mind can’t help repeating; “You are either with Me or against Me.”

  7. I’ve been shuffling through the commentary on this at Inside Higher Education and it’s another piece of evidence in the files wherein the following propositions are substantiated:-

    1. Ordinary people derive much of their self-concept from what they do and how well they do it, if not all of it. People who manipulate words and images for a living derive theirs from the idle ‘stances’ they take, and there is commonly a great deal of self-congratulation in all that (see Thomas Sowell on this point).

    2. Hence the hostility to Dr. McAdams. He took issue with their stances and thus their self-concept. The reaction among the professoriate is one I’ve seen before at a former workplace: inventing a drizzle of pseudo-offences to justify the arbitrary insults (“bully”) with which you’re showering the man.

    3. Their intellect allows them considerable facility for rationalization. Less articulate people cannot lie to themselves this way.

    4. Institutional monovox robs various parties of critical voices to point out their fallacious reasoning.

    5. They do not consult their attorneys, do not listen to what those attorneys say, or fire professional attorneys for attorneys who are ‘sound’. We just cannot be wrong. We are good people.

    6. They really do not consider themselves bound by law, because such law is composed of people inferior to themselves, hence an institutional try-every-door mentality (as seen in institutional reactions to state referenda on racial preferences, which reflect faculty and administration arrogance at its most stubborn).

    I wasted more of my life than I’d care to admit in such milieux, and I can recall two tenured faculty members who departed under implicit threats. One (it was implied to me) had a history of sexual misconduct (this was back in 1984) and had been counseled before. The other was senile and had been behaving peculiarly for about five years before the administration supposedly told him to retire or they would invoke the clause in the faculty handbook allowing for the dismissal of nonfunctional faculty. The Alzheimer’s was formally diagnosed a month later, to no one’s surprise. You really have to be caught with a dead girl or a live boy. The notion that criticizing a crummy TA on your blog is a firing offense (and all of the striking of attitudes the dean added to the public discussion of a personnel matter) leads me to believe this Holz fellow is seriously disoriented and needs to be removed from any position of influence.

    I do not think the sort of institutional contumely you see in higher education will stop until presidents, provosts, deans, and department chairs start losing their houses to pay the other guy’s legal fees.

  8. Art Deco wrote: “Their intellect allows them considerable facility for rationalization. Less articulate people cannot lie to themselves this way.”

    Indeed! Such “Smart People” have an unwavering ability to believe their own B.S.

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