AFA Sends Letter to Collin College on Michael Phillips
Letter calls for reversal of decision not to renew Phillips’ employment contract
PRINCETON, NJ – The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) today sent a letter to Collin College in Texas after it declined to renew the employment contract of Professor Michael Phillips, who has attracted controversy for some of his public stances. Phillips has advocated for the removal of Confederate monuments, discussed the history of pandemic responses in his class, posted to social media about a school policy restricting faculty speech on mask policies, and encouraged students to wear masks despite the university discouraging such faculty speech. The university has disciplined Professor Phillips for some of these actions and repeatedly attempted to suppress his efforts to freely communicate. Now he has been informed that his contract will not be renewed.
“I write on behalf of the Academic Freedom Alliance to express our concern with the College’s present course of action,” wrote Keith Whittington, chair of the AFA’s academic committee, in the letter to Collin College District President H. Neil Matkin. “These disciplinary actions followed by this contract non-renewal raise grave concerns that Professor Phillips is being retaliated against for his constitutionally protected criticism of the College’s administration and for his efforts to communicate his concerns about the functioning of the College to members of the public and of the campus community.”
Whittington continued, “For Professor Phillips to face the possible termination of his employment in part on the basis of and in retaliation for his constitutionally protected speech would violate his First Amendment rights. Under the circumstances, we call on the College to reverse its decision and renew his employment contract.”
Professor Phillips is working with an attorney provided by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has also closely monitored other instances of academic freedom suppression at Collin College.
The Academic Freedom Alliance is a diverse alliance of college and university faculty members who are dedicated to upholding the principles of academic freedom and professorial free speech. These principles are central to the mission of our institutions of higher education for the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The AFA is committed to defending universal principles of academic freedom and will come to the assistance of professors regardless of their individual views. The Academic Freedom Alliance itself takes no position on the merits of the substantive content of faculty speech or writing.