University of California at Los Angeles: Non-Reappointment of Controversial Professor

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) refused to reappoint an environmental health sciences professor, stating that his controversial research failed to accord with the department’s “mission.” Dr. James Enstrom engaged in successful whistleblowing against a prominent member of the department, and there had been many years of debate between Enstrom and some of his colleagues over research on air pollution. After FIRE intervened, Enstrom was given a reprieve while his appeals continued. Enstrom filed a lawsuit against UCLA in June 2012, assisted by the American Center for Law and Justice. The case is currently before a federal district court.


























    • LOIS HENRY: Scientist, gagged by UCLA, wins a round in court

      March 30, 2013

      I was glad to learn a federal judge ruled recently that a former UCLA faculty member’s civil rights lawsuit can go forward against the school. By all appearances UCLA did, in fact, violate Jim Enstrom’s first amendment rights, not to mention his 14th amendment rights, and purposely deprived him of the funding he needed just to shut him up on issues of air pollution.  He has stood by his own and others’ studies that show Californians are not dying in droves because of air pollution, specifically PM2.5, tiny bits of particulate matter such as dust and soot. But that isn’t the […]

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    • Whistle-blowing Scientist Sues UCLA for His Job

      March 17, 2013

      UCLA’s Dr. James Enstrom is one of my personal heroes of the “Tea Party” movement. The importance of his work on behalf of Californians cannot be understated. The Environmental Health Sciences professor has been fighting the false science behind some of our state’s most onerous regulations for years.  The rebel professor is also famously known for bringing the public’s attention to a fake Ph.D. degree claimed by a researcher for the extremely powerful state environmental agency, the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Liberal institutions claim they adore whistle-blowers.  Not, it seems, when they fight the eco-activism that is entrenched in campus and government […]

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    • Environmentalists vs. whistleblowers

      June 21, 2012

      Because of his disagreements with colleagues and members of the California Air Resources Board, a UCLA professor has resorted to suing the school to keep his job of 35 years. Strong disagreements had taken place over the extent to which certain air pollutants affect public health. Adam Kissel, vice president of programs for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), says the final straw was when Dr. James Enstrom blew the whistle concerning the deceit of a member of the department. “The environmental regulation machine is very powerful in California, and it has come after a professor who has challenged the […]

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    • Scientist Who Challenged Environmental Regulation in California Sues UCLA

      June 14, 2012

      If there is anywhere we need honest scientists who aren’t on a mission to exclude whistleblowers, skeptics, and people with minority opinions, it is the American university. But that principle has failed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After 35 years at UCLA, Dr. James E. Enstrom has had to resort to suing UCLA in order to keep his job. The case has broad resonance because Dr. Enstrom and his colleagues have strongly disagreed over research on a particular kind of air pollution and its implications for environmental regulations. Are huge numbers of people dying from air pollution […]

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    • Skeptical scientist who challenged environmental regulation sues UCLA

      June 14, 2012

      “Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere,” a study published this year in the prestigious American Sociological Review, showed that Americans’ trust in science has been on the decline for at least 35 years, mainly because of the decrease in conservatives’ trust in science. But there is good reason for trust in universities such as the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to be quickly eroding. After 35 years at UCLA, whistleblower and epidemiologist Dr. James E. Enstrom has had to resort to suing UCLA in order to keep his job. It is sad but perhaps not surprising that some areas of science […]

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    • Academic mission or UCLA speech code?

      April 12, 2011

      If you think that academia is not the exclusive playground of the academic left, consider the fate of UCLA epidemiologist James Enstrom. In 2008, Enstrom thought that a report on the health effects of diesel emissions presented by the California Air Resources Board was faulty. As it turns out, CARB’s nitrous oxide emission estimates were overstated by 340 percent. Enstrom and others had trouble believing that a Ph.D. statistician would make some of CARB’s findings. They dug around and found that CARB researcher Hien Tran had falsely claimed to have a doctorate in statistics from UC Davis. In fact, Tran […]

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    • The Green Politics of Reprisals: UCLA’s Enstrom Gets a Hearing on His Unfair Dismissal

      April 4, 2011

      by Nick Gillespie Reason That’s James Enstrom, a long-time environmental health sciences professor whom UCLA refused to reappoint because, as The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) notes, …his controversial research failed to accord with the department’s “mission.” Dr. James Enstrom engaged in successful whistleblowing against a prominent member of the department, and there had been many years of debate between Enstrom and some of his colleagues over research on air pollution. After FIRE intervened, Enstrom was given an eight-month reprieve until March 31, 2011, or until his appeals are resolved. Well, Enstrom’s got a hearing that starts today, […]

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    • Question Environmentalist Orthodoxy, Get Fired?

      April 4, 2011

      Through FIRE, I discovered the ReasonTV report below about Prof. James Enstrom’s ordeal at UCLA. Professor Enstrom’s research questioned the link between diesel particulate pollution and premature mortality. Professor Enstrom’s findings were at odds with conclusions drawn the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which had determined that particulate pollution was killing thousands of Californians and would thus be subject to stringent new regulations.   When Professor Enstrom dug deeper into CARB’s findings, he discovered that CARB was relying in large part on the work of a “scientist” who’d purchased his Ph.D. from a diploma mill. He blew the whistle on […]

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    • The Smog of Reprisal

      April 1, 2011

      James Enstrom, a UCLA epidemiologist, was denied reappointment last year to his position as a research professor in the School of Public Health. Dr. Enstrom, who had worked at the university for 34 years, got into trouble, according to the campus newspaper’s report in August, because his research findings on “fine particulate pollution” ran against conventional wisdom and “stirred up far more attention than scientific research usually receives.” Part of what Enstrom stirred up was the revelation that the lead author of a key scientific paper used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to justify new regulations had faked […]

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    • Is Protection of Dissenting Opinions Part of the Diversity Conversation at UCLA?

      October 6, 2014

      This afternoon, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is inviting students to provide input into the hiring process for a newly-created position of Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Hopefully this will lead to a broad and wide-ranging conversation that includes the fundamental importance of protecting dissenting opinions. Diversity of opinion is among the most vital forms of diversity within the campus community, and in such an environment where clashes of opinion are inevitable, UCLA must ensure that none are punished for going against the grain of popular discourse. In the case of professor James Enstrom, sadly, UCLA […]

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    • Trial Date Set for Whistleblowing Professor’s Retaliation Lawsuit Against UCLA

      January 15, 2014

      Last March, Dr. James E. Enstrom won an encouraging victory in court when United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal refused to dismiss some of his First Amendment claims against various University of California, Los Angeles and University of California system administrators and granted him leave to amend the remaining defective claims. Professor Enstrom has since filed a revised complaint addressing the defects noted in the judge’s ruling. The Daily Bruin reports that on Monday, Judge Bernal set a trial date of November 18, 2014, for Dr. Enstrom’s case. We will continue to bring you updates as the case progresses. Not caught up on Professor Enstrom’s story? Look […]

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    • Encouraging News on UCLA Whistleblower’s Suit

      March 30, 2013

      by Leslie Eastman Legal Insurrection   I have an update on a legal hearing involving UCLA’s Dr. James Enstrom, whose brave whistleblowing actions involving the school’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences cost him his job. William Creeley, the Director of Legal and Public Advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a report on the encouraging results of that hearing: After 35 years of employment, and many years of disagreement over research on air pollution and its implications for environmental regulations, Dr. James E. Enstrom, assisted by the American Center for Law and Justice, filed a federal lawsuit against various University of California […]

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    • Encouraging Ruling in Whistleblowing Scientist’s Suit Against UCLA

      March 26, 2013

      After 35 years of employment, and many years of disagreement over research on air pollution and its implications for environmental regulations, Dr. James E. Enstrom, assisted by the American Center for Law and Justice, filed a federal lawsuit against various University of California and UCLA administrators in June 2012. Enstrom’s complaint alleged that UCLA had refused to reappoint him after he engaged in successful whistleblowing against a member of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.   Last week, a federal district court issued an encouraging ruling in Enstrom’s case. On March 18, United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal signed […]

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    • Whistleblowing UCLA Prof in Court Today to Defend His Job

      March 18, 2013

      As Leslie Eastman of Legal Insurrection reminds readers, today is UCLA professor Jim Enstrom’s first day in court over UCLA’s attempts to dismiss him after he engaged in successful whistleblowing against a member of his department and a government scientist. Enstrom came to FIRE for help in 2010 when the university first moved to terminate his employment. While, with FIRE’s help, Professor Enstrom has been able to delay the final day of his employment for several years now, UCLA has steadfastly refused to address the larger issues. As a result, Enstrom filed suit in June of last year. Here’s what FIRE reported at the time: […]

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    • Two Years Later, Nobody at UCLA Has Evaluated Enstrom’s Free Speech Claims

      June 18, 2012

      Last week, FIRE reported on the federal lawsuit just filed by UCLA professor and researcher James E. Enstrom, who sued UCLA in order to keep his job after exhausting all internal remedies at the university. As the documentation of his case shows, and as his lawsuit reiterates, UCLA came up with a bunch of shifting rationales to get rid of him after more than 30 years of his service to UCLA, all because of his successful whistleblowing and his challenges to the science behind environmental regulations in California. One amazing thing about all of this is that UCLA claims that […]

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    • UCLA Professor’s Lawsuit Catches Fire in National Media

      June 15, 2012

      Dr. James E. Enstrom’s lawsuit against the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which alleges that the university’s refusal to rehire him after a 35-year career constituted a breach of his protected expression, has made headlines across the country. FIRE had been working with Enstrom for years to ensure that his disagreement over research on air pollution and its implication for environmental regulations didn’t affect his faculty position in a way that violated his First Amendment rights. However, when it became clear that UCLA was doing all it could to drive him out for just that reason, Enstrom decided to […]

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    • UCLA: When Caught, Just Lie About Stuff

      June 15, 2012

      Those who follow FIRE and The Torch know that FIRE tends to treat the horrendous abuses ladled out upon the students and professors that we help with a certain amount of equanimity. That’s nearly always appropriate if you want people to take you seriously, and it’s certainly the professional way to deal with things, in most cases.  Then there are the times you just have to call you-know-what on universities’ attempts to justify the unjust and the unjustifiable. This is one of those times. My colleague Adam Kissel wrote a Daily Caller article yesterday on the case of UCLA epidemiologist […]

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    • Whistleblowing Scientist Who Challenged Environmental Regulation Sues UCLA

      June 14, 2012

      Here’s today’s press release:  LOS ANGELES, June 14, 2012—After 35 years at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. James E. Enstrom is suing UCLA to keep his job. Following many years of disagreement over research on air pollution and its implications for environmental regulations, UCLA finally refused to reappoint Enstrom after he engaged in successful whistleblowing against a member of the department. When UCLA told Enstrom he was being let go because his research failed to accord with the department’s “mission,” Enstrom turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.  “FIRE has been helping Dr. […]

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    • Whistleblowing Scientist Who Challenged Environmental Regulation Sues UCLA

      June 14, 2012

      LOS ANGELES, June 14, 2012—After 35 years at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. James E. Enstrom is suing UCLA to keep his job. Following many years of disagreement over research on air pollution and its implications for environmental regulations, UCLA finally refused to reappoint Enstrom after he engaged in successful whistleblowing against a member of the department. When UCLA told Enstrom he was being let go because his research failed to accord with the department’s “mission,” Enstrom turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “FIRE has been helping Dr. Enstrom to keep his […]

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    • Clock Ticking for Whistleblower Professor at UCLA

      June 8, 2012

      After 35 years at UCLA, environmental health sciences professor and researcher James Enstrom is scheduled to lose his job in a few weeks. Enstrom was first let go from UCLA after he blew the whistle on a California Air Resources Board (CARB) researcher’s fake Ph.D., challenged the science behind environmental regulations involving air pollution in California, and challenged the legality of the composition of the CARB. To make a very long story short: UCLA brought forth a variety of meritless allegations, FIRE intervened in August of 2010, Reason.tv produced this video, state legislators got involved, Enstrom became represented by former […]

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    • UCLA Urged to Prioritize Academic Freedom in Search for Public Health Dean

      January 10, 2012

      At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health (SPH), a search is underway for a new dean to lead the school. Of the many important qualities UCLA will be considering as it assesses potential candidates, it is respect for academic freedom that will ensure the best environment for innovative research the public can trust. FIRE made this point last week in a letter to search committee chair Judy Olian (who is also dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management).  It is a little sad that FIRE even needs to remind UCLA about respect for academic […]

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    • Academic Freedom and Scientific Integrity in Jeopardy at UCLA: New Document Posted

      December 30, 2011

      FIRE has just posted a letter from the Academic Freedom Committee at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block. In the letter, the members of the committee express “unanimous concern that the decision by the School of Public Health not to re-appoint James Enstrom, Ph.D. in the Professional Research series may represent a violation of academic freedom.” FIRE has been fighting for Professor Enstrom’s academic freedom and free speech rights at UCLA since August 2010. I encourage those who are new to FIRE to read about this disappointing case of a professor whose department […]

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    • Whistleblowing UCLA Professor Wins One More Year

      September 6, 2011

      University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Professor James Enstrom, whose department had tried to get rid of him for not fitting the department’s “mission,” has been granted an additional year of employment at UCLA, FIRE has learned. Dr. Enstrom had engaged in successful whistleblowing against a prominent member of his department, and there had been many years of debate between Enstrom and some of his colleagues over research on air pollution (a debate which continues today). Enstrom’s story is far from over. Giving a professor a final year is a positive step, but it does not resolve the free speech, […]

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    • More Support for Whistleblowing UCLA Professor; Enstrom Case Becomes Class Assignment

      August 16, 2011

      I have been impressed by the amount of concern and support expressed in the case of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor James Enstrom, who has been fighting for his job (with FIRE’s help) for more than a year. Dr. Enstrom, an environmental health sciences professor who has been at UCLA for 35 years, has been facing retaliation after publishing politically inconvenient research about air pollution and leading a successful whistleblowing campaign against the California Air Resources Board. UCLA told Enstrom that his controversial research failed to accord with the environmental health sciences department’s “mission,” threatening academic freedom for […]

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    • Whistleblowing UCLA Professor Now Represented by American Center for Law & Justice

      June 2, 2011

      UCLA environmental health sciences professor and researcher James Enstrom, who was let go from UCLA after 34 years once he blew the whistle on a researcher’s fake Ph.D. and other issues involving the California Air Resources Board, is now being represented by former FIRE President David French at the American Center for Law & Justice. This important development in the case further demonstrates that UCLA will not succeed in public with the rights violation it has tried to accomplish in private. FIRE has been fighting for Dr. Enstrom since last August, winning him an eight-month reprieve until March 31, 2011, or until his appeals are resolved. UCLA […]

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    • National Attention to UCLA Whistleblowing Scandal from Cato’s Ilya Shapiro

      April 25, 2011

      Over at the Cato @ Liberty blog, Ilya Shapiro has brought even more attention to the whistleblowing scandal at UCLA, which FIRE has been covering here. Shapiro, who is a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies for the Cato Institute and also the Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, writes: This month, UCLA’s James Enstrom (34 years a professor) is fighting his dismissal from UCLA for [among other exercises of his academic freedom and basic rights] submitting a paper to a regulatory board that denied that diesel particulates cause 2,000 premature deaths in California per year.  The scientific literature published […]

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    • This Week in the News: Whistleblowing UCLA Professor Still Making Headlines and Hamilton College Wins Muzzle Award

      April 15, 2011

      UCLA’s gross violation of the rights of Dr. Enstrom, the whisteblowing professor fighting for his job after being told he did not fit his department’s “mission,” continued to elicit outrage in the media this week. Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle published both a column (reprinted in Townhall.com) and a shorter blog post (containing Reason.tv’s video on the case) criticizing the university’s actions. Also don’t miss Adam’s excellent interview about the case with Mike Slater of The Mike Slater Show. Up north, Hamilton College earned a Muzzle Award for forcing all first-year male students to attend “She Fears You,” […]

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    • Please Read: Help FIRE Support Professor James Enstrom

      April 13, 2011

      Late last week, I sent a letter to FIRE’s supporters via U.S. mail requesting their help. It’s not often that a case is so egregious and has such wide-reaching negative consequences that FIRE asks for immediate resources to help us take action. Yet, that is exactly what we are facing in California, where scientists across the state are learning what happens to someone who challenges others’ research in good faith. Now I’d like to share my thoughts on the situation with the Torch audience, and urge you to consider joining the many FIRE donors who have already pledged their support […]

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    • ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ and Others Criticize UCLA’s Treatment of Whistleblowing Professor

      April 12, 2011

      Torch readers by now may be quite familiar with the story of Dr. James Enstrom, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) scientist and professor who is fighting for his job after being told he did not fit his department’s “mission,” in retaliation for critiquing some of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) scientific findings, as well as his whistleblowing on a CARB scientist with a fake Ph.D. and other problems at CARB. I reported last week on the media outrage that erupted concerning the case. UCLA’s gross violation of Enstrom’s rights continues to draw criticism in the media. Today, […]

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    • This Week in the News: Hearings Begin for Whistleblowing UCLA Professor

      April 8, 2011

      Hearings for University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor and scientist James Enstrom began on Monday of this week. Torch readers will remember that Dr. Enstrom is fighting for his job after UCLA retaliated against him for his exposure of a California Air Resources Board (CARB) scientist with a fake Ph.D. as well as other staffing irregularities, and for Enstrom’s scientific critique of findings by CARB that were used to create air pollution regulations in the state.FIRE’s efforts to protect Enstrom’s rights have been picked up by writers for a number of outlets, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, Instapundit, […]

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    • Media Outrage Building over Whistleblowing UCLA Professor’s Case

      April 5, 2011

      Hearings for University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor and scientist James Enstrom began yesterday. Dr. Enstrom is fighting for his job after UCLA retaliated against him for his exposure of a California Air Resources Board (CARB) scientist with a fake Ph.D. as well as other staffing irregularities, and for Enstrom’s scientific critique of findings by CARB that were used to create air pollution regulations in the state. Last week, Reason.tv released a video about the implications of a professor being punished for claiming that his state’s environmental policy relies on questionable science, and 12 California legislators wrote UCLA Chancellor […]

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    • Take Action to Preserve Academic Freedom at UCLA

      April 4, 2011

      Click here to write UCLA Chancellor Gene Block about the threat to academic freedom posed by UCLA’s treatment of Dr. James Enstrom.  

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    • FIRE in the News: Adam Tours the Sunshine State and American University Refuses Intrusive DOJ Grant

      April 4, 2011

      Adam has been very busy the last two weeks delivering speeches at six Florida universities. In anticipation of Adam’s lecture on Monday at the University of Central Florida (UCF), KnightNews.com, an independent news source serving the UCF area, published an editorial strongly encouraging students to attend the talk and expressing its support of “every citizen’s right to free speech at UCF.” We at FIRE appreciate KnightNews.com‘s endorsement as well as its principled stance on individual rights. Adam also visited Rollins College, where a column critical of illegal immigration led to a productive campus-wide discussion. Mike Lafferty of the Orlando Sentinel […]

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    • 12 California State Legislators Write UCLA, Decrying Retaliation Case

      April 1, 2011

      Twelve members of the California State Legislature have written UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block and Provost Scott Waugh a letter decrying UCLA’s treatment of longtime Department of Environmental Health Sciences faculty member James E. Enstrom. Professor Enstrom was let go from UCLA after some 34 years under circumstances detailed by FIRE and described in a video released yesterday from Reason.tv. Led by Chief Republican Whip Dan Logue, Assemblymember, Third District, the legislators write that they “remain deeply troubled by the University’s inability to provide credible cause for Dr. Enstrom’s dismissal, and the appearance of political interference in the University’s academic discourse.” They also raise concerns “as to […]

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    • Environmental Health Sciences Professor Still Fighting for His Job at UCLA

      March 14, 2011

      FIRE began reporting last September on the case of Dr. James Enstrom, an environmental health sciences professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who has worked at UCLA as a researcher and professor since 1976. UCLA refused to reappoint him, stating that his controversial research failed to accord with the department’s “mission.” In reality, Enstrom had engaged in successful whistleblowing against a prominent member of the department, and there had been many years of debate between Enstrom and some of his colleagues over research on air pollution. After FIRE intervened, Enstrom was given an eight-month reprieve until March 31, […]

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    • Did Someone Lie to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block?

      October 1, 2010

      University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Chancellor Gene D. Block has responded to FIRE’s August 26, 2010, letter in the matter of Associate Resident Professor James Enstrom. All signs are that UCLA retaliated against Dr. Enstrom’s activism and research in the area of environmental health. Our letter explained that the faculty members in his department voted against his reappointment on nebulous grounds–that his research on environmental health “is not aligned with the academic mission of the Department, and that [his] research output and other contributions do not meet the [Environmental Health Sciences] department minimums.” According to Enstrom, however, no minimum […]

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    • ‘California Watch’ on Non-Rehire Case at UCLA

      September 7, 2010

      Erica Perez, Higher Education Reporter for California Watch, has drawn further attention to the case of UCLA faculty member James Enstrom, who has faced retaliation at UCLA because of his research and activism in the area of air pollution research. FIRE reported on his case last week after UCLA gave Dr. Enstrom an eight-month reprieve while Enstrom appeals a deeply problematic non-rehire decision against him and pursues a whistleblower retaliation complaint. UCLA repeatedly told him that his research on environmental health does not fit the “mission” of the Environmental Health Sciences department and that he had failed to meet unspecified […]

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    • In Reversal, UCLA Temporarily Halts Retaliation Against Whistleblowing Professor

      September 2, 2010

      Today’s press release announces that the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has temporarily halted its violations of the free expression rights of Department of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) faculty member Dr. James Enstrom. The faculty of EHS refused to reappoint Enstrom after he engaged in successful whistleblowing against a member of the department–and after many years of disagreement between Enstrom and some of his colleagues over research on air pollution. After UCLA told Enstrom he was being let go because his controversial research failed to accord with the department’s “mission,” Enstrom turned to FIRE for help. Enstrom has worked […]

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