Concordia University Wisconsin is a private, Lutheran university in scenic Mequon, Wisconsin, fast by the western shore of Lake Michigan. It serves about 4,000 undergraduate students with 78 majors and minors, as well as postgraduate students with programs that include pharmacology and nursing. Though a private, religious institution, CUW upholds academic freedom in its contracts with professors and in its faculty handbook.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the academic forum …
Dr. Gregory P. Schultz, a full professor of philosophy, who has lectured at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, discovered the limited boundaries of CUW’s academic freedom when he dared to write and post a spirited and eloquent paper that critiqued “systemic Woke-ism” and “Woke Dysphoria” as an “educational heresy” that endangers CUW’s mission. He ridiculed Woke philosophy as illiterate and illiberal in its unwillingness to allow any questioning of its tenets. Dr. Schultz worried that fashionable beliefs were leading this religious school to “cultural abandonment of the gospels.” And he dared question the standards by which the university is conducting its search for a new president.
We owe it to our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for telling us what happened next. On Friday, Feb. 18 Schultz received an email from the university’s president requesting that he attend a meeting that afternoon to discuss the article. Schultz responded that he had missed the email because he was teaching classes and visiting students during his posted office hours. He was on his way to teach his third class of the day and offered to meet the next Monday.
“Request denied,” wrote the president. “I will see you at 4 p.m., Greg.” Schultz did not see the response because he was teaching. That same day Schultz was suspended pending an investigation into multiple allegations of misconduct stemming from the article, including “conduct unbecoming a Christian.”
CUW relieved Schultz as a teacher, from visiting the campus, and prohibited him from any contact with students or his faculty colleagues. In one request worthy of the Inquisition, the president demanded that Dr. Schultz “recant” his article or face the modern form of burning at the stake — termination.
As FIRE noted: “Suspension is a punishment, and not a light one, entitling Schultz to due process before it is imposed. Schultz is unable to teach his classes or even communicate with his students and other faculty members. Each day of his suspension that goes by is a further disruption to Schultz’s career as an educator and to his relationships with his students and colleagues.”
CUW’s own policies require that a faculty member accused of misconduct receive proper notice of the charges, a chance to respond, the formation of a review committee and a formal hearing. Fortunately, the legal eagles at FIRE are on the case working for the restoration of Gregory Schultz’s speech rights.
Make no mistake, Dr. Schultz’s paper was a tart polemic, sure to insult those in favor of imposing a progressive agenda at CUW. But his invective remained high-toned and erudite. He did not engage in ad hominems or puerile name calling. Protect The 1st would only add the following thought experiment: Imagine if a professor at CUW had written a similarly sharp invective, but this time condemning CUW for being a citadel of racism and gender discrimination. Does anyone think that such a polemic would cause administrators to immolate a career?
But if that did happen, rest assured, First Amendment advocates from FIRE to PT1st would come to that professor’s defense.