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April 18, 2022 1:11 pm
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Jewish Shakespeare Scholar Wrongly Fired, National Academic Group Finds

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Riley Center at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/DerRichter

A new report by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon, wrongly fired Shakespeare scholar Daniel Pollack-Pelzner after he exposed sexual misconduct allegations against university trustees and reported antisemitic harassment.

According to a civil complaint filed last July, Pollack-Pelzner was dismissed from his tenured position after urging his colleagues to address reports of sexual harassment by implementing new training programs and other measures. The proposal was rejected by Linfield University President Miles Davis, who asked Pollack-Pelzner to withdraw a faculty report detailing the allegations, one of which prompted a trustee accused of abusing four students to resign.

The complaint also said that Davis made antisemitic remarks about “Jewish noses” during a discussion of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

On Thursday, the AAUP said Linfield University violated the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure “and the institution’s own regulations, which incorporate AAUP dismissal standards, when it dismissed Pollack-Pelzner without demonstrating adequate cause for its actions before an elected hearing body.”

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“The investigating committee also found that the administration violated Pollack-Pelzner’s academic freedom to participate in institutional governance without retaliation,” the report continued, arguing that “general conditions for academic freedom and shared governance at Linfield University are deplorable.”

Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Linfield University spokesperson Scott Nelson disputed the faculty association’s account of the events that led to Pollack-Pelzner’s termination, arguing that the school has complied evidence that “substantially discredits much of the AAUP report.”

“Contrary to the AAUP’s position, Linfield University unequivocally supports academic freedom and faculty tenure,” Nelson said. “We also take all allegations of misconduct seriously and are committed to creating and fostering a learning and working environment in which all members of the community feel physically and emotionally safe and can thrive.”

Since last April, Pollack-Pelzner has not spoken publicly about his firing, choosing instead to retweet messages of support from friends and colleagues. He broke that silence Thursday, tweeting, “Appreciate AAUP investigating and documenting so thoroughly the myriad ways Linfield University’s decision to fire me violated its own policies and the principles of academic freedom.”

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