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Controversial Ole Miss professor with...

Controversial Ole Miss professor with embattled tenure now leading Chancellor’s committee on academic freedom

By: Courtney Ingle - September 27, 2019

Sociology Professor Dr. James Thomas, known for his combative statements regarding treatment of US Senators and Trump supporters being “modern day Hitlerjugend” on Twitter, is now leading the Chancellor’s standing Academic Freedom and Faculty Responsibility Committee at Ole Miss.

According to the Ole Miss website, that committee is sanctioned with the task “to conduct hearings, when such are required in cases involving the dismissal or termination of tenured faculty, the non-renewal of a contract for a non-tenured faculty member when there is a substantial claim that such action violates academic freedom or equal employment rights, or the dismissal of a non-tenured faculty member prior to the expiration of a term appointment.”

Thomas’s own tenure was called into question earlier this year in a meeting that broke protocol— behind closed doors in a closed, private meeting– following the tenure of nearly 80 other educators.


The comments he had made comparing young Trump supporters to Hitler Youth were taken in part of the considerations made during the meeting.

“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,” stated the transcript of the meeting. “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.” 

IHL subsequently 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.


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.
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