Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.



I have no doubt that Mike Adams has been the subject of harassment and faces a generally hostile university environment at UNC-Wilmington (see here and here).  But I have one question for those who claim he was denied promotion to full professor.  Does Adams have the academic accomplishments that would merit this promotion?  I checked his faculty bio page on the UNC-Wilmington site, and there is nothing there to indicate that he is engaged in the sort of academic research, relevant to his field, that would be expected of a full professor.  Yes he writes a regular column – a column that is quite popular – and wrote a popular book on the academy and I understand he has another coming out on feminism.  They may both be excellent books, but I am not sure what either has to do with his field of academic expertise – criminology – so neither should be particularly relevant for the promotion decision.  That he is a two-time ‘professor of the year’ award winner is nice, but at most universities this is not (or, at least, should not) be a substitute for scholarly work.

I  recently went through the promotion process at Case.  While I do not believe my regular writing and blogging for NRO and other right-leaning outfits affected my promotion, one way or the other. This is as it should be.  I am proud of my work for NRO, but it is work I do in addition to my scholarship obligations.  I was promoted because of my record of scholarship in academic publications.  Had I not produced this scholarship, the University would have been correct to deny my promotion, irrespective of my political views.

It may well be that Adams has a long and distinguished record of academic achievement, including published academic works in his field, that would justify a promotion to full professor.  It also may be the case that Adams was held to a different standard than his colleagues due to his outspoken advocacy of conservative views.  

I certainly believe that political views affect hiring and promotion decisions at many universities – but that does not mean every time an outspoken conservative is denied promotion it is due to his politics.  If Adams was denied promotion for political reasons, despite a distinguished record of academic achievement, then UNC-Wilmington should be condemned for the decision.  On the other hand, if Adams chose to devote his energies to his political commentary, at the expense of his academic responsibilities, then the decision to deny his promotion may have been entirely correct.  After all, there are certainly conservative academics who blame academic politics for their own career failures.  Without more evidence about his situation, I am not sure how we can know which has occurred.


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