The Marquette Wire is reporting Professor John McAdams of Marquette University has passed away. He was 75 years old.
Paul Nolette, chairman of the political science department at Marquette, announced the death of McAdams in an email to students, according to The Wire.
“I’m writing to share the difficult news that Dr. John McAdams passed away today,” Nolette said in the email. “Please join me in praying for Dr. McAdams’ family, friends, and colleagues in the Klingler College of Arts & Sciences.”
McAdams was an expert on the death penalty and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but he was known nationally for his four-year fight against Marquette University to regain his teaching position after he was suspended over a post on his blog, Marquette Warrior.
The blog post criticized a teacher in the philosophy department for her comments to a student after class regarding what would be allowed to be discussed in the classroom. The teacher, who was also a graduate student, complained about the blog post, causing the politically correct university to suspend McAdams.
McAdams was given four conditions for his return, which he rejected while pointing to the university’s contractual obligation to defend the professor’s right of academic freedom. McAdams lost in circuit court in Milwaukee but eventually prevailed at the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2018. McAdams returned to teaching in 2019.
There was never a question of accepting a payout and just going away for McAdams. In an interview with RightWisconsin after his victory, McAdams explained why he didn’t pursue a settlement in the case.
“The protection I have is pretty much identical to what a lot of private universities that voluntarily contractually promise constitutional rights, first amendment rights to faculty,” McAdams said. “And the protections that state schools get automatically. If Marquette could weasel out of its commitment to me, other schools could weasel out.”
McAdams was represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). Rick Esenberg, the president and general counsel for WILL, explained in 2018 the significance of McAdams’ victory.
“This case is not binding on courts in other states,” Esenberg said. “It’s not binding on federal courts interpreting the United States Constitution. But it will be persuasive. There are not many cases to address that because most universities don’t try to do what Marquette did, but this was an opportunity to make clear that’s what these concepts mean.”
What we’ll remember most about McAdams during this fight is how Marquette University blocked him from the classroom, his students, and his office. Banned from campus, McAdams wasn’t able to continue his scholarly work. His one desire was to return to the classroom and teach students again. Over and over again, McAdams would emphasize his desire to return to the students.
Even before the blog post controversy, McAdams was not a favorite of the Marquette Administration. His blog was named after the former nickname for the school’s athletic teams, The Warriors. The blog name was a poke at the political correctness of Marquette which had decided to abandon the name because of fears of upsetting Native Americans.
McAdams kept up the blog, even during his fight with Marquette over his employment. A warrior with words as his weapons to the end, his last blog post criticized Marquette University for wanting to change the university’s seal because Fr. Marquette is on it:
This is yet another example of the boneheaded political correctness that afflicts Marquette in the same way it afflicts most universities. Changing the seal will do absolutely nothing to help American Indians, but it will give a warm glow of virtue to the politically correct.
And look absolutely stupid to normal, sensible people.
McAdams was always a good source of opinion on the latest “developments” with the Kennedy Assassination. As with any good source of conspiracy theories, there were always developments.
But no “new” developments would budge the professor. McAdams would tell you the limits of what he knew: Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone shooter. What was behind Oswald or Jack Ruby, who knows? But all of the evidence pointed to one shooter from the book depository, and Oswald was guilty.
And then McAdams would laugh how his opinion was unpopular with the conspiracy theorists who wanted to believe… something. Even if that meant blocking McAdams from their discussion boards.
On a personal note, Doreen and I will miss talking with John at political gatherings. We have fond memories of sitting at John’s table at these dinners and talking about nearly everything. If I went without Doreen, as is often, Doreen would ask if John was there and how he was doing. He was a truly warm and genuine person, always friendly, always happy to see you, and always willing to take the time to talk (even if he was supposed to be mingling with potential donors to his cause). The news of his death hits us personally because he was one of those people you could genuinely enjoy their company at political events.
McAdams’ death saddens us greatly, the loss to the Marquette community is terrible, but his death will hit hard those who knew him best. To the many students he influenced, to his colleagues on the faculty, to his friends and to his family, but especially to his wife Lynda, our sincere condolences.