Palm Beach Atlantic University: Professor’s Contract Renewal Delayed, Contingent on Review of Racial Justice Material


Palm Beach Atlantic University

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Case Overview

In February 2023, Professor Samuel Joeckel reported being confronted by a Palm Beach Atlantic University dean who said the university president received an angry phone call from a parent accusing Joeckel of “indoctrinating” students. The university reportedly said it would delay Joeckel’s contract renewal, pending a review of his course material. On February 21, FIRE wrote PBA explaining its actions violate Jockel’s pedagogical autonomy to determine whether and how to introduce or approach material that may challenge, upset, or even deeply offend some people — autonomy that is protected by PBA’s policy language enshrining academic freedom. FIRE asked the university to reaffirm its commitment to academic freedom and renew Joeckel’s contract. Rather than responding to our letter, PBA instead terminated Joeckel in March. On June 20, FIRE circulated a Letter of Support for faculty around the country to sign, urging PBA to not retaliate against professors for their protected speech.