UPDATE: Augsburg professor removed from classroom for discussion of racial slur will return to teaching

March 15, 2019

Augsburg University professor Phillip Adamo, who was removed from the classroom after a discussion about a racial slur, will return to the classroom.

Augsburg’s student newspaper, The Echo, reported last Saturday that while Adamo would be replaced in his administrative role as the director of the honors program in the fall, he would be permitted to return to teaching at Augsburg. Last month, FIRE called on Augsburg to reinstate Adamo.

Adamo was removed from teaching indefinitely last fall for saying a racial slur aloud in the context of a discussion about whether the slur is appropriate. A student had said the slur when reading a quote from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, prompting the discussion.

In an open letter to the Augsburg community, Adamo wrote:

Most of the public discourse favored academic freedom. Yet whether or not students feel included and able to participate fully in classroom discussions is also important. Not more important than academic freedom, I think, but this need not be an either/or choice.

[…]

The Provost has resolved that Augsburg will not pursue my formal dismissal. This makes me happy. She further resolved that I should no longer serve as Honors Director. This makes me unhappy, but I resolve not to appeal her decision or to seek legal remedy against the school I love.

[…]

I harbor no ill will toward any member of Augsburg’s community. I hope we can all continue to discuss concepts like academic freedom. Even when we disagree, I hope such disagreement occurs with mutual love and respect.

While we believe it is a mistake to remove Adamo from his position as director of the honors program, FIRE is pleased that Adamo will return to the classroom.


Schools:  Augsburg University