Faculty, We Have Met the Enemy, and It Is Us

Henry Reichman
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt:  Two weeks ago, the historian Garrett Felber reached a confidential settlement with the University of Mississippi, where in December 2020 his appointment as a tenure-track assistant professor was not renewed under abrupt and alarming circumstances. “I was terminated because of my public statements, including legitimate criticisms of the university. Rather than go to court and seek reinstatement, I have chosen to move on and continue my work from a position outside this university,” Felber declared.

The case attracted considerable attention, including an open letter to the administration protesting the termination, which attracted over 5,400 signatures, as well as statements from the American Historical Association, PEN America, FIRE, and the Organization of American Historians. As the then-chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, I questioned the university’s claim that its actions were “consistent with AAUP standards.”  As my final term as chair has now expired and the case has settled, I can be less circumspect. As John Wilson put it, Felber’s termination was “one of the most remarkable attacks on academic freedom in recent memory.”