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IHL Board Meeting Minutes released...

IHL Board Meeting Minutes released after bombastic Ole Miss professor granted tenure

By: Courtney Ingle - June 21, 2019

Normally private minutes of a board meeting granting Ole Miss Professor James Thomas tenure has been released.  Thomas has a bombastic history of comparing Donald Trump supporters to Nazis and encouraging the harassment of public officials.

Ole Miss Meeting Minutes by yallpolitics on Scribd

The Board of Trustees of the Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) met regarding the tenure of Professor James Thomas on May 16th. They did so in a private, closed-door meeting following the tenure considerations of 76 other candidates.

Thomas had recently garnered attention after tweeting that lawmakers should be harassed during the Kavanaugh hearings.

Professor James Thomas, Ole Miss

This scandal was not ignored during the meeting, according to the minutes.

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. In response to a tweet from another individual where a statement was made that there are only 3, maybe 4, professors there at 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.”

It was later discussed, according to the minutes that “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.”

Positives about Thomas’s work at Ole Miss were also taken into consideration at the meeting, and it was voted 7-5 for his tenure to be granted.

The 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. 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.

The United Campus Workers of Mississippi, the first campus labor union at Ole Miss (which is led by Thomas) responded to the meeting and the tenure of the professor.

“While we appreciate the university administration standing in support of academic freedom and freedom of speech, we still must recognize the chilling effect the Board’s decision to merely isolate a faculty member for tenure consideration—or isolate any campus worker for their speech—can have on academic freedom and freedom of speech. We want to make clear that we stand in solidarity with any campus worker whose rights have been threatened or violated.”


UCW Response AcFr&FrSpeech by on Scribd

Meanwhile Thomas tweets undeterred.

About the Author(s)
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Courtney Ingle

Courtney Ingle is a freelance writer from Brandon, Mississippi. She has years of journalism experience writing for radio, print, and the web. She and her husband Jeremy have two children, Taylor and Jacob and they are members of Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl, Mississippi.