Indiana university fired Black professor based on 'racist tropes': report
Mark McPhail (Linfield University)

A Black professor was fired from his position at Indiana University Northwest based on "racist tropes," and without an adequate opportunity to defend himself, argued a report from the American Association of University Professors, as detailed by Inside Higher Ed Monday.

The professor, former IUN chief academic officer and communications professor Mark McPhail, was accused in 2021 by the university of saying “words to the effect that ‘the only way to end racism is to kill all the white people,’” according to the report, although McPhail disputes he ever said anything to that effect.

He has since become a provost at Linfield University in Oregon.

"A new AAUP report calls 'implausible' the allegation that the professor 'actually threatened to hurt white people,' noting one person it interviewed who called his manner 'mild and soothing,'" said the report. "The AAUP released an investigative report today, citing interviews of nine current and former IU employees it conducted, atop a previous investigation done by IUN’s Faculty Board of Review. 'The [AAUP] committee cannot help drawing the sad conclusion that, if Professor McPhail had not questioned the racism on campus and at IU, he might have been spared, at least temporarily, from becoming a target of it,' the report says."

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This was McPhail's own conclusion, as he filed a lawsuit against the university last year, alleging that this was all retaliation for speaking out about racism and lack of diversity on campus.

“The racial climate at IUN appears to be unwelcoming to faculty members of color,” the AAUP report concluded. “In Professor McPhail’s case, it appeared to have been downright hostile, as evidenced by the presence of racist tropes of incompetent, angry and physically violent Black men in the language used to justify his dismissal.”

Furthermore, all of this occurred just after IUN suspended him from teaching, and “none of the three people who had spoken directly to Professor McPhail between his suspension and dismissal stated that he had made any threat of violence.”

All of this comes amid furious national debate over how racism is addressed in the education system around the country; a debate that was reinvigorated after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis decided to block a high school Advanced Placement course in African-American Studies, allegedly over its inclusion of LGBTQ issues.