WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Mike Adams has survived multiple calls for his termination. The UNC-Wilmington criminology and sociology professor sued his employer — and won — after the university tried to deny him tenure over public statements that many found to be racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. Some viewed the now-tenured professor as untouchable because of first amendment protections of his free speech, but new questions about his resume - now being refuted by Adams after this story was originally published - could change that.
WECT has confirmed the accuracy of some of the information listed on Adams’ resume is, at best, questionable. WECT has further confirmed providing misleading or false information to the university could be a fireable offense under UNCW policy.
WECT received an email Friday from Caitlin Trombley, a PhD student living in New Bern, who is one of thousands of people Adams offended with his most recent insensitive tweets. Notably, he compared Governor Roy Cooper to a slaveholder over his extended stay at home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, demanding in a May 29 tweet: “Massa Cooper, let my people go!” In another tweet on May 28, Adams insulted women by saying: “Don’t shutdown the universities. Shut down the non-essential majors. Like Women’s studies.”
Trombley wanted to bring attention to some concerning things she’d discovered on Adams’ resume on file at UNCW. Specifically, the last page of his resume (below) under “Professional Affiliations.” Adams lists seven academic organizations, including the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, National Association of Scholars, and the Southeastern Psychological Society.
Trombley reached out to all the groups, hoping to inform them of Adams recent online remarks, as she thought they may be in violation of the organizations’ codes of ethics. She said she thought even if the university couldn’t do anything to Adams because free speech is protected, the professional groups may have the ability to censure him or even revoke his membership. Trombley said she was shocked to learn that some of these organizations had never heard of Adams and told her he was certainly not a member.
WECT independently reached out to the organizations on Adams’ resume and confirmed what Trombley found.
“We were able to go back to 2000 and cannot find [Adams] name in our database,” John L. Worrall, Executive Director of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences wrote to WECT. “We also conducted a cursory scan of past meeting programs and did not see his name in any. I am not clear why he would list us as an affiliation.”
An officer for the Southern Sociological Society told WECT Adams was not a member of their organization, and had not been for at least four years.
“Well at first I tried to be rational about it, and say, ‘Well, maybe he was a part of these organizations at some point in his career, and he just hasn’t updated [his resume].’ But then one of his publications he lists on there is from 2017," Trombley said. "So then I was like, ‘Well, at the very least, he’s updated it within the past three years then.’ If you are going to put that on there then you should take these organizations that you aren’t a part of any more off. But when I really started getting baffled was when I got an email from the American Society of Criminology and they said, ‘We haven’t had record of him at all. Ever.’”
WECT could not find any evidence that one of the organizations Adams listed, the Southeastern Psychological Society, even exists. A Google search for the organization only found a similarly named Southeastern Psychological Association. An administrator for that organization said he was not familiar with Adams or an organization named Southeastern Psychological Society, though he could not definitively say it did not exist.
While Worrall noted it is not uncommon for job applicants to list organizations that they used to be members of on their resumes, it is notable that multiple groups Adams lists affiliations with have no record of him on file, and one organization may not exist.
Adams did not respond to our attempts to reach him for an explanation Monday morning. He sent this text shortly after the story published late Monday afternoon:
“My curriculum vitae lists all professional organizations with which I have been affiliated in any way at any point in my career, not just those to which I currently belong. Some of these occurred almost 30 years ago. Any slight inaccuracy in a name is unintentional.”
WECT asked UNCW about the possible issue with the validity of the affiliations with these organizations listed on Adams’s resume, and the potential ramifications if any of the information on his resume was proven to be false or misleading. In response, the university said it is reviewing its options in light of the recent uproar surrounding Adams. They also sent us a copy of their ethics policy, which includes a section on “Personal Conduct” that requires employees to present accurate information. Additionally the university provided us with a copy of policy 08.150 entitled “Verification of Academic and Professional Credentials.”
“The university recognizes the need to employ well-qualified employees of the highest integrity... Therefore, hiring decisions must be based on qualifications known to be accurate and complete,” the policy reads. “Applicants must certify the accuracy and completeness of application materials by signing the application for employment ... Falsification or the provision of misleading information related to credentials discovered after the employee has been hired will result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”
While both policies include general guidelines that could apply to this situation, it was not immediately clear how the university defines “credentials,” or if Adams’ “professional affiliations” are considered “credentials” like his degrees, licenses and other certifications.
Three of the professional organizations that Adams listed on his resume, the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological Association, The American Society of Criminology, and the Mid-South Sociological Association, did not respond to our inquiry about his affiliation with their group. Only one group, the National Association of Scholars, has confirmed Adams is a member.
Adams’ fellow sociology professors at UNCW have also renewed their outcry in the last few days over Adams behavior. They say he bullies coworkers and and even students who don’t agree with him, and they’ve had enough.
“We recognize free speech. We’re academics ourselves, obviously. So we recognize the importance of free speech in academia. That’s not our central point we’re making. It comes down to harassment. It comes down to safety. It comes down to the kind of hate speech that puts people in very vulnerable positions that is harmful,” Associate Professor Jean-Anne Sutherland told WECT. “Harm isn’t just physical. There has been a lot of emotional harm done by him and that’s very concerning to us.”
Also weighing in: Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney Jason Minnicozzi. The prosecutor has offered to teach Professor Adams’ criminology courses for free in an effort to remove him from the classroom. He said he’s yet to hear if the university will take him up on that offer.