Oklahoma Christian University: Professor Fired Over Guest Speaker’s Classroom Remarks


Oklahoma Christian University

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Case Overview


On March 7, 2022, Oklahoma Christian University fired tenured professor Michael O’Keefe without due process based on a guest speaker’s presentation to O’Keefe’s class, which included the speaker telling a story about peer pressure involving the phrase “truth or dick,” as well as allegations that O’Keefe told students not to complain about the speaker. FIRE wrote OC on April 19, explaining that the university’s actions contravened its commitments to academic freedom and due process. In a follow-on April 25 phone call with FIRE, OC attempted to justify its actions based on a conditional employment agreement O’Keefe entered in 2015 — but that agreement actually confirmed that he retained tenure and its attendant due process protections. FIRE emailed OC on April 29, asking why the university failed to follow any of these procedures before firing O’Keefe, only to receive a response two weeks later that due to media coverage of FIRE’s letter, “there doesn’t seem to be a basis for a substantive answer and dialogue.”