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The American Association of University Professors has now censured Indiana University Northwest (IUN) for firing a tenured Black professor after IUN alleged he said “words to the effect that ‘the only way to end racism is to kill all the white people.’”
An AAUP report released in January called “implausible” the allegation that Mark McPhail “actually threatened to hurt white people,” noting one person it interviewed called his manner “mild and soothing.”
“The [AAUP] committee cannot help drawing the sad conclusion that, if Professor McPhail had not questioned the racism on campus and at IU, he might have been spared, at least temporarily, from becoming a target of it,” the report said.
“The racial climate at IUN appears to be unwelcoming to faculty members of color,” the report says. “In Professor McPhail’s case, it appeared to have been downright hostile, as evidenced by the presence of racist tropes of incompetent, angry and physically violent Black men in the language used to justify his dismissal.”
McPhail was once the chief academic officer of IUN. He was a communication professor at the time of his 2021 firing and is now interim vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oregon’s Linfield University.
In a news release Monday, the AAUP said its governing council voted unanimously Saturday to add IUN to its list of censured administrations.
“AAUP censure informs the academic community and the public at large that conditions for academic freedom and tenure at the institution are unsound,” the release said.
McPhail filed a lawsuit over the situation that is ongoing. He is seeking, among other things, back pay, punitive damages and reinstatement next academic year.
IUN didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday.