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UNC–Wilmington on trial for retaliation against professor

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney available for media interviews each day of trial
Published On: 3/14/2014

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham

WHAT: Available for media interviews after each day of trial in Adams v. The Trustees of the University of North Carolina–Wilmington

WHEN: Trial begins Monday, March 17, at 1:30 p.m. EDT and continues each day through at least Wednesday, March 19

WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division, 201 S. Evans St., Greenville


GREENVILLE, N.C. — In a trial that begins Monday, a jury will consider whether the University of North Carolina–Wilmington retaliated against one of its professors for his views. Last year, a federal court found sufficient evidence to warrant a trial after an appeals court determined that the First Amendment protects the views criminology professor Dr. Mike Adams published in opinion columns with which university officials disagreed.

Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham will be available for media interviews at the end of each day of the trial. Lead counsel David French will also be available for interviews.

“Universities are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, not a place where professors face retaliation for having a different view than university officials,” said Barham. “Disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views is no grounds for denying him a promotion. As the 4th Circuit affirmed, protecting academic freedom for university professors is critical, and opinion columns are among the purest examples of free speech that the First Amendment protects.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote in 2011 that “no individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment…. Adams’ columns addressed topics such as academic freedom, civil rights, campus culture, sex, feminism, abortion, homosexuality, religion, and morality. Such topics plainly touched on issues of public, rather than private, concern.”

A former atheist, Adams frequently received accolades from his colleagues after the university hired him as an assistant professor in 1993 and promoted him to associate professor in 1998. His conversion to Christianity in 2000 impacted his views on political and social issues. Subsequently, the university subjected Adams to a campaign of academic persecution that culminated in his denial of promotion to full professor, despite an award-winning record of teaching, research, and service.

  • Pronunciation guide: Barham (BEHR’-um)


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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