Thursday, June 20, 2019

It Takes Only One Vote

An Ole Miss professor known for his online incitements to harass politicians obtained the coveted tenure status by all of one vote at the May IHL Board of Trustees meeting.  Professor James Thomas tweeted last October:






The tweet created a storm of controversy.  However, the IHL Board of Trustees approved tenure for the tweetin'  tough guy.  The Clarion-Ledger reported on May 16:

The state College Board on Thursday spent nearly two hours behind closed doors before granting tenure to a University of Mississippi assistant professor who once encouraged confronting Republican U.S. senators at restaurants as political protest.

Assistant sociology professor James Thomas was criticized last October after calling for interrupting senators' meals in response to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination.

“Don’t just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all,”  Thomas wrote on Twitter on Oct. 6. “Put your whole damn fingers in their salads. Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out.”

Thomas’ employer and Gov. Phil Bryant denounced the tweet, with the latter calling the statements “troubling." Some people called for Thomas to be fired over his comments.

Then-Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter also condemned the message, saying the social media post "did not reflect the values articulated by the university, such as respect for the dignity of each individual, civility and fairness." 

Vitter stepped down from the leadership post a month later, longtime administrator Larry Sparks is now serving as interim chancellor.

Trustees on Thursday said the university's backing of Thomas was a key reason the board decided to grant his tenure.

The Board approved his tenure by a margin of one vote.  The minutes state:

The Board engaged in discussions regarding whether to grant tenure to UM Professor James M. Thomas. Attorney Mark Waggoner, engaged by the Board as a First Amendment subject matter expert, was present. The Interim Chancellor and Provost of UM were also present for part of the discussions.

It was discussed that Professor Thomas is a prolific tweeter on social media; that Professor Thomas links his tweets to his personal website which includes his CV; that he tweets as a professor at the University of Mississippi and as an outspoken and adamant commentator on University administrative affairs; and that Professor Thomas often tweets about his course content and his daily classroom discussions. Some Trustees expressed concerns about some of Professor Thomas' tweets, most notably, one from January 19, 2019. In response to a tweet from another individual where a statement was made that "There are only 3, maybe 4, professors there [Ole Miss] that are conservative," Professor Thomas tweeted the following:

The truth is there used to be three or four conservative professors at UM. But we used two for a blood sacrifice to the ghost of Eugene Debs, another we forced to watch and she was subsequently converted, and I ate the fourth because his tears tasted like candy.

The question before the Board is whether the actions of Professor Thomas violated IHL Policy, UM Policy and the UM Statement Concerning Academic Freedom, and what impact any such violations should have on the decision to grant or deny tenure to Professor Thomas. The Board reviewed the requirements for tenure set out in IHL Policies 402.03 and 403.0101 which require, in part, that the Board and heads of institutions consider a candidate's effectiveness in interpersonal relationships, including professional ethics and cooperativeness in making decisions regarding tenure.

The Board also discussed the University's "Statement Concerning Academic Freedom," which states in part: "As a person of learning and an educational officer, he/she should remember that the public may judge his/her profession and his/her institution by his/her utterances. Hence, he/she should strive at all times to be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others..." It was further discussed that UM's Statement Concerning Academic Freedom is derived from the 1940 Statement of Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and since the guidance from the AAUP was written, it has been endorsed and adopted by hundreds of educational institutions and organizations world-wide.

Trustees discussed whether Thomas' January 19, 2019 tweet showed a lack of respect for the opinions of others, such as views of colleagues with whom he did not share the same opinions (political or otherwise), and whether it showed appropriate restraint and professionalism. Some Trustees expressed their view that this tweet did not reflect on a matter of public concern nor did it serve an academic purpose or contribute to public debate on any issue. Trustees recognized that the Board must at all times protect the academic freedom of the institutions and their ability to safely and effectively educate students but also recognized that there are limits to academic freedom.

In addition, there was much discussion regarding the several positive reasons for UM's tenure recommendation for Dr. Thomas including his evaluation at all levels of the process of seeking tenure and the recommendation of the University that he be awarded tenure. Following further discussion and some dissent, ultimately it was the recommendation in favor of tenure from the University of Mississippi that carried the greatest weight in the majority of the Board's decision to grant tenure to Professor Thomas.

A motion was made by Trustee Ogletree, seconded by Trustee Hooper, to approve tenure for James Michael Thomas; promotion to Associate Professor of Sociology; Department of Sociology and Anthropology; effective July 1, 2019. The motion passed on a 7 to 5 vote, with Trustee Cunningham joining by phone. Trustees voting for the motion were: Dr. Steven Cunningham, Mr. Shane Hooper, Mr. Bruce Martin, Dr. Alfred McNair, Mr. Gee Ogletree, Mr. Hal Parker, and Dr. Walt Starr. Trustees voting against the motion were: Mr. Tom Duff, Dr. Ford Dye, Ms. Ann Lamar, Ms. Jeanne Luckey, and Mr. Chip Morgan.

Apparently no mention was made of  Dr. Thomas's incitement to harass conservatives in the discussion.

Kingfish note: One can only imagine how the good professor would react if someone did to him what he advocated doing to Senators.  



66 comments:

Anonymous said...

This ought to really help sell football tickets, basketball tickets, etc. as well as increasing gifting for "The University of Mississippi." You know, the school that has a chancellor. (Wasn't Adolph Hitler a chancellor?) Maybe a fundraising idea might be to sell all confederate grave stones and monuments if there are any still around.

Anonymous said...

Harvard of the South....

Anonymous said...

If you cant understand that the power to deny human rights to migrants, LGBT, women, and other victims is in the hands of these senators and that it is a civic duty to resist fascism and white male supremacy then you sre simply on the wrong side of history.

Cousin Eddie said...

Ole Miss needs to merged with Jackson State! Mississippi has two many colleges for the population & budget size.

Bill Dees said...

Yawn ...

Bill Dees said...

Yawn...

Anonymous said...

I thought I knew Gee Ogletree better than that. Pitiful.

Anonymous said...

As an alumnus of Ole Miss, I am saddened, embarrassed, and angry that this person was not fired. That he was given tenure is an abomination.

Bye bye Liberals said...

I can spend my alumni dues other places now. They sure won’t be going to Ole Miss

Messick said...

Hear that, Rebel Alums? Keep giving that institution your donations. Keep sending your kids there. Keep buying that merch. Keep boosting those teams. Keep feeding the beast that hates you, your way of life, your beliefs, your values, your culture, and your family unit.

Anonymous said...

The real issue is lack of control on the campus. There are many of these militant liberals on all university campuses including Ole Miss. If anyone in power were paying attention this joke of an academician never would have made it to tenure track to start with. There are 20 more right behind him. Get a good Chancellor in there that people know and trust (non-VItteresque) and this left lurch will shut down. Get an unknown and the barbarians will overrun the gates.

And for love of grammar, Cousin Eddie: it Is too not two.

Anonymous said...

Gee Ogletree perfectly represents the mediocrity of the man that appointed him and looks the other way while Southern Miss tanks.

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss has gone nowhere but down hill since Robert Khayat left. It's embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

11:11,
Ole miss alum here as well. I quit giving any money to the university 3 years ago. It's a liberal mad house. Sadly diversify of opinion and thought is oppressed on the campus.

Anonymous said...

Well good for the Ole Miss members of the IHL for voting against tenure. Typical of the bulldogs and others to vote for it.

Anonymous said...

11:11, ditto! I just called to cancel my annual pledge.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of snowflakes y'all are. Keep goosestepping over the abyss with your Lord and Savior, Trump.

Anonymous said...

And Mississippi (higher) Education remains in last place...

Anonymous said...



I am damn sorry my money went there but i will not anymore.

Anonymous said...

I knew Gee Ogletree at Southern Miss where he was student body president. I thought he had more sense than this. I am really surprised to see him vote to award tenure.

Unknown said...

I cut off Ole Miss this year. I have always been a fan (and alumn) but not a bitter partisan. Both of my daughters went to State for undergrad. One daughter went to Ole Miss grad school and the other daughter is going to South Alabama for grad school. My son is going to school in Birmingham in the Fall so no more season tickets, Loyalty Foundation, etc... for me.
This all started under Khayat, continued under the empty suit Jones (ie Khayat version 2.0), and continued further under Vitter and the current empty suit dumbass.

Mbrookes said...

12:09, what does Trump have to do with any of this? That must be your knee-jerk response to anything that is not extremely left wing.

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss suffers from Stockholm Syndrome. It has been abused by the left so frequently and effectively that it now generally identifies with its abusers. Sad for the university that it cannot simply decide issues like this one with a simple "What is the right thing to do and is granting tenure consistent with our requirements?" This prof is poisonous and likely hasn't distinguished himself to any significant degree anyway, yet this sad board hires a First Amendment expert to advise it. In doing so the board deflected sufficiently to change the subject of what was in issue concerning the qualification of this prof for tenure. I'm an alum and I won't be investing in this institution.

Anonymous said...

All social justice types deserve to eat their own medicine.

Anonymous said...

Glad the five Ole Miss board members stood up for the school and voted no.

Anonymous said...

this is something everybody need to understand about law professors..........99% of them :
have never been licensed to practice law;
have never passed a bar exam;
have never tried a case;
have never represented a client;
have never practiced law;
have never run a law practice or firm;
have no idea where the courthouse is;.....git my drift?

Anonymous said...

If the President can advocate sexually assaulting women and get a pass from the same commenters here, what does that tell you about the state of the extreme right and their Faux News outrage?

Anonymous said...

Ogletree is a liberal idiot.

Anonymous said...

The way these universities spend money on new buildings, etc. I can't imagine anyone of upper middle class or below actually donating money to them in the first place. Can't you find a better cause to donate to rather than a University that tears down building to just rebuild it? You donated 5% of your annual income and all you did was contribute a couple bricks to the black hole congrats on your achievements. On a side note I'm not a tough guy and I haven't punched nor been punched in decades but why can't these liberals ever do this to my food? I guess I'm a nobody so nobody knows the thought crimes I commit so therefore I go unpunished.

Anonymous said...

You almost never hear this kind of thing coming out of State.

In just the last few years, I can think of at least a half dozen non-sports-related public embarrassments/controversies for Ole Miss. This guy, the banana peel incident, the confederate statue, the Microaggression Response Team or whatever, etc.

But none from State.

Is that an A&M versus "liberal arts" thing? Or does the administration at state just keep faculty and students on a shorter leash?

Anonymous said...

It is telling that all the Ole Miss Board members voted no and the others from other schools voted yes. You couldn't convince me that anyone on the IHL Board makes any decision of consequence in the interest of the greater good of the state. MSU alum from Board Members down love it when Ole Miss suffers and vice versa. Even Southern gets shafted by IHL. The preferred candidate that was chosen by the University committee was and continues to be Dr. Paul. But they (IHL) voted for that joke Bennett to look progressive. Fact.

Anonymous said...

The non-Ole Miss members voted for a matter against the wishes of the Ole Miss members that only pertained to that school. That is wrong.

Anonymous said...

What kind of person would get a PHD in "History"? I guess you have to read one or two more "history books" and write a book report on it like I did in elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Sad. And pitiful. What a waste of taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

Gee is very smart. Probably was swayed by the 1st Amendment “expert.”

Anonymous said...

@1:01, are you familiar with the word “hypocrisy”? When you can ignore someone advocating raping women, spewing racism and bigotry, and threatening violence and arrest to political opponents, it makes those of us in the middle a little skeptical when you pretend to freak out over the tweet of a teacher that you never met.

Anonymous said...

Should we all go to the faculty cafeteria and put our fingers in his kale salad?

Anonymous said...

That one vote will prove to be a very expensive mistake.

Anonymous said...

To quote Churchill..."Academic wars are so bitter because the stakes are so small!"

Anonymous said...

So if a professor (tenured or not) said to assault all black people in restaurants, I wonder what would happen? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

"...downhill since Khayat left" my ass, you dumb twit. It was Khayat, following the ever-liberal Turner who turned this school on its ear, banished symbols, stopped songs, put the school on the road to killing off a mascot and the renaming of streets he found offensive.

Khayat ushered in the liberal era that has grown by leaps and bounds under those who followed him and the one who is about to be hired.

The school now concentrates on recruiting out of state students and has effectively told residents of this state as well as alumni to go to hell.

Anonymous said...

@2:46, there are plenty of blunders at MSU if you aren’t looking through maroon colored spectacles. I feel like the student trying to join ISIS is an embarrassment, but maybe you are all good with that? I would also be embarrassed for glorifying a man who beats up girls, but once again the MSU leadership thought otherwise. I would have also been embarrassed when the most famous alumnus got arrested for DUI on the way to a youth camp or when his pit bulls got loose and attacked the neighbors. Or may I remind you of your married baseball coach last year who got caught sexting in the dugout a couple months into the job.

Anonymous said...

2:46,

How quickly you forget that A&M students formed the local ISIS outpost.

Try harder.

Anonymous said...

So, is this USM getting revenge for the Bennett vote?

Anonymous said...

5:19 and 5:23, I am an MSU alumnus and MSU is goofy liberal too. After I wrote the Dean of Students office reminding them their job is to educate my son and not to indoctrinate him, the Dean's office responded by saying the four pillars of the school are "Learning, Service, Research, and and Diversity." I told them not to lie to me as the official school seal clearly states, "Learning, Service and Research" and the institution's name is not Mississippi State Diversity. The Dean's office chose not to respond to my points.

I wrote President Keenum about a professor who reportedly downgrades exam answers and papers that do not adhere to his political agenda. Keenum didn't even respond to me.

MSU and Ole Miss are both more interested in disseminating propaganda than teaching students how to think critically.

Anonymous said...

If this propagandist didn't have tenure, why didn't the school simply just refuse to renew his contract?

Anonymous said...

1:58, you have no idea of what you are talking about. If you did a little research, you would find your assertions to be false. A small minority have not taken a bar exam and have not had some law practice experience. In fact most have had some practice experience, often several years, and often in major firms. That said, the majority of law professors are on the liberal side, but certainly not all.

Spots The Weakest Link.. said...

5:19; Really? Is that all you have? The kid who wanted to join ISIS and had no idea where the country of Iran was, that was, what, six years ago?

A non MSU student in high school who kicked a girl, repented and has excelled in behavior and sports since then deserves to be decapitated? While you had bongers in the meat-dorm and other players stealing television sets and driving loaner cars that came from NOOOoobaddy?

And you can overlook a coach with three kids who was farkin' hookers and you think that compares to sexting from the dugout?

You've had four chancellors in seven years and the current interim has broken up his own marriage while that clown you had as AD lost institutional control but escaped punishment?

And all you can finish up with is a pit bull who escaped and bit somebody?

SON! You really need to work on your game.

Anonymous said...

1;58pm is so correct.... thats why i find it so hilarious that the media runs straight to a stinking law professor to get an 'expert" opinion on a legal case that is in the news.

Anonymous said...

boy howdy..... does this topic ever have the eternal sophomores of ole miss riled up........grow up you fat tired middle aged losers. college was 30 years ago for you.

Anonymous said...

But to 2:46's point, the ISIS girl had no connection to State, other than happening to be a student there. She wasn't acting on behalf of State.

All the stuff he mentioned involved Ole Miss faculty, staff, organizations, or administration.

I agree that State has problems like anybody, but its usually a dumb individual and they handle it. Ole Miss actively shoots itself in the foot on at least a semi-annual basis.

If you Rebs don't acknowledge that your leadership has a weaker hold on your campus than State's has on theirs, you're the one with rose colored glasses.

Anonymous said...

MSU has graduates of "terrorist recruitment 101". They also have their own wack job professor, disparaging the hell out a group of conservative college students, who thought the country being overrun by illegal immigrants was not agreeable. The journalist/professor also went on some rant about Dixiecrats all being Republicans.

Wait until the SJW get through with "Ole Miss". It will be onto MSU.

Look at what is hiding in plane sight at Ole Miss, worse read what the co-ed is advocating needs to be done in another southern state. Not that anyone should be surprised the Washington Post is enabling the BS.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/08/10/its-not-just-confederate-monuments-that-need-to-come-down/?fbclid=IwAR2bzBxlAnsQwFtmuJ3m9othbU0eIlJq92MWapUu3LwI8w3oLD0x86WBHOo&utm_term=.b54be7227948&wpisrc=nl_everything&wpmm=1

Like the gutting of the University, what they want to tear down is just a test run before they get to all the other statesmen of the 20th century. Oh wait, they are already there!

All going to come undone real quick.


Anonymous said...

Kinda like a firing squad... except here everyone knows who had the bullet(s)

Anonymous said...

I knew Bruce Martin was worthless but no way Hal Parker wanted to vote for this.

Anonymous said...

No one cares about this stuff when the football team is beating Bama and winning the Sugar Bowl.

Anonymous said...

There were zero Ole Miss alums voting to give the guy tenure. All of the OM undergrads votes to deny tenure.

But two MSU alums saw no problem with it, including the IHL president.

But go ahead and bash OM for something two State grads did. Makes sense.

Anonymous said...

UM alumni would much prefer to lose a case; the same way Marquette did with McAdams.

Anonymous said...

What is shocking to me about this is that professionals in certain professions should act with public neutrality and objectivity. College professors, journalists, and certainly judges are among those professions. Certainly those professionals should be allowed to hold personal, private opinions and beliefs, but due to the nature of the unique role these professions play in society, the public's trust in them requires them to be neutral and objective in their professional lives. Judges are required to self-recuse if there is even an appearance of impartiality (even if they do not always do so), so it should not shock the conscience of a rational person that certain other professions require the same.

Moreover, nearly all professions require a certain level of conduct while "on the job" - an accountant who shows up for work at IBM wearing a Speedo and flipflops and carrying a sign with highly-offensive but protected speech would not be tolerated.

The upshot of this, to me, is that it is not the specifics of this professor's language and certainly not the school at which he teaches, it is his on-the-job conduct in both injecting his personal political views inappropriately as well as bringing his employer into disrepute that warranted not only his denial of tenure but also his dismissal.

For those who would defend his "right" to (protected) "free speech," I do not question his right to free speech, but the Constitution only prohibits the government from restricting that right (and even then, the right is not unrestrained, the famous example being the prohibition against shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater in which there is no fire), it does not require the government to hire and retain him if he chooses to exercise his right in a fashion incompatible with the position he wishes to hold - again, see the requirements for a judge.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anybody is "bashing" Ole Miss, per se.

Just saying that Ole Miss has more highly public, embarrassing stuff coming out of their faculty, staff, and organizations. And that their on-campus leaders don't have a good handle on it, because it keeps happening.

I'm proud of my Ole Miss law degree, but these things are true, folks.

Deny them at your peril.

Anonymous said...

There is a very definite liberal shift in the institutions of learning not just in Ms, but across our nation. I, too, have watched with growing apprehension all the un-needed, un-patriotic, and un-welcomed changes that are taking place. The colleges are turning out more and more people who are not able to successfully function in life or in business, and after a ridiculously expensive education! As has been shown over and over, more young people are moving back home after college (35%) than ever before. At the present rate, I hope that we can avoid another civil war or our becoming a third world country.

Anonymous said...

While I am pleased the UM contingent voted no, methinks this is window dressing. The votes were counted before the actual vote took place. This way the UM contingent could vote no allowing UM an attempt to save face. The UM contingent knew this was coming. Why didn't they pressure the UM administration to not submit the name for tenure?

I ceased my donations to these schools. I say the legislature should start to cut funding. Bad for the state you say? It will make no difference once these liberal totalitarians strip us of our rights.

Anonymous said...

Tenure is stupid as hell to start with. I don't even like contracts. I think folks should show up every day ready to work and compete like their job depends on it. Work every day like you are trying to earn the opportunity to come back tomorrow. Tenure just encourages professors to become lazy, unaccountable, and absent. But they still draw a check. Because of tenure.

Anonymous said...

to 8:32..............1:58 is dead on right. i been practicing law for 31 years and everything 1:58 said is true . you aint got a clue about the real world

Anonymous said...

Why do we even have tenure anyhow? I am familiar with its origination but faculty would have academic freedom today--protected in court--without it. So can anyone convince me of the need for it?

Anonymous said...

12:02 - Maybe I misunderstood you, but, as a state institution, Ole Miss IS 'the government'. And so is any other branch of government, local, county, state, agencies and departments.

It would simple enough to end the liberal takeover of our schools by inserting in job descriptions a total prohibition against lecturing, writing, opining based on your personal political philosophy while in a classroom setting or otherwise representing the institution, and clearly making it a firing offense to do so.

But, since those in control favor liberal brain-creep, that will never happen. While we were distracted by the number of eggs we could count, we turned the chicken houses over to the foxes.

Anonymous said...

on JJ the gold standard for number of comments is about 50. this thread is well above that. proof that theres nothing is more important to the eternal sophomores of mississippi than their stinking SEC colleges that most didn't even attend, or at best dropped out. going to UM or MSU was apparently the highlight of their lives.

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