WILMNGTON, NC (WECT) – Federal Judge Malcolm Howard ordered UNCW Tuesday to promote associate criminology professor Mike Adams to full professorship and pay him $50,000 in back pay.
Following a four-day trial in March, a Federal Jury found Adams' speech and writings were a reason in which UNCW did not originally award him a promotion years ago.
Adams says he was denied the promotion because his religious and political views were contrary to those held by university officials.
Howard declined to award Adams any extra money in the case for emotional damages because that was not clearly presented to the jury.
Howard also declined UNCW's motion for a new trial.
Adams has 15 days to file a motion to the court so they can consider if UNCW will be responsible for paying his attorneys fees.
Adams said in an interview Wednesday he's happy the case is finally to a close. "It's been long and trying," the associate professor noted.
He hopes his case will set legal precedent for similar situations.
"I've written a lot about the first amendment," explained Adams. "I teach a course about first amendment and crime. It's good to be a part of the legal precedent that's now going to be taught in law schools. It's rewarding."
The professor said this victory was more than a personal accomplishment.
"This is a fourth circuit precedent that greatly protects academic freedoms for thousands of professors whether they be republicans or democrats or somewhere in the middle."
Most UNCW students were not familiar with the lawsuit. UNCW freshman Jake Stidham was the exception. Stidham said he saw posts about Adams' victory on Facebook. He thought the win was inspiring.
"A win is a win. Fairness is fairness. Equality is equality. I just think it's cool that the conservative party was allowed to succeed," Stidham said.
Even though the legal case was exhausting, Adams said it was a move he does not regret making.
"It's something that was very worth doing. Professors without a doubt focus on teaching in the classroom, but I believe also it's important to be involved in the larger fight."
I am writing to you today to address the outcome of the Adams v. UNCW case and to reiterate some key points that were, and remain, in the spotlight.
I'm sure most of you are aware of the verdict handed down by a federal court in Greenville, in which a jury supported one of Dr. Mike Adams's three original claims against the university, that of speech retaliation. Previously, the district court granted summary dismissal of two of Dr. Adams's original claims finding that there was no evidence of religious discrimination nor a basis for an equal protection violation. These two summary dismissals were upheld on appeal. While the Office of the Attorney General consults with us regarding our own options for appeal, I felt it necessary to clarify some critical issues involved here.
This university is committed to a number of fundamental values, among them academic freedom; freedom of speech; and the essential nature of peer review, based on merit, within the faculty evaluation process. We have steadfastly supported and will continue to support the right of Dr. Adams and all faculty to express those beliefs openly and without fear of retaliation. This case has sparked passionate debate both within and outside the university, and rightfully so. In the broader sense, UNCW, and universities in general, have an obligation to both initiate and nurture civil discourse around important issues. Thus, I am eager to foster conversations on our campus about the issues involved with this case and how we will move forward as a university.
UNCW's reputation and success are built around our people, programs, and academic endeavors and exploration. I am confident that we as a community will proceed with great pride in our accomplishments, respect for one another's beliefs, and a continued commitment to our students' educational experience. Thank you for joining me in that journey.
Gary L. Miller