Linfield University in Oregon has fired professor and Shakespeare scholar Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, who had complained about alleged sexual harassment at the university, OregonLive reported.
Pollack-Pelzner, 41, accused Linfield President Miles K. Davis of not taking action against sexual misconduct by the school’s trustees. Instead, he alleges Davis fended off criticism by making anti-semitic comments.
On Tuesday, the school confirmed it had fired Pollack-Pelzner for having “interfered with the university’s administration of its responsibilities.”
According to Linfield spokesman Scott Nelson, the termination was not related to the professor retaliating against the president or board trustees but for his “propagated false and defamatory statements.”
Pollack-Pelzner alleged that Davis had commented on the “length of Jewish noses” in their first one-on-one meeting in 2018. Last year, when he brought sexual misconduct complaints from students and faculty against board members, the president was quick to put it off by citing Biblical passages from the New Testament.
The now-former professor stated he felt “blocked at every turn.” He said he is consulting a lawyer and has declined further comment.
Support From Faculty and Students
Pollack-Pelzner began sharing the allegations on a Twitter thread last month.
“So, in response to allegations of misconduct, @LinfieldUniv has shut down student comments on Instagram, censored critical posts on Facebook, and suspended campus email lists. Do these folks really think they’re going to win a social media war against Generation Z?” he tweeted.
Professor Pollack-Pelzner’s termination drew immediate flak from students, faculty, and other staff. Linfield psychology professors Jennifer Linder and Tanya Tompkins vouched for him, saying president Davis made similar disturbing comments about Jews and the Holocaust during a staff meeting in October 2018.
NOT my Linfield. @pollackpelzner has shaped my academic life in ways that I am forever grateful for—including standing up for students and marginalized voices. Big mistake. My heart is absolutely broken. https://t.co/n3VnTtI8Mp
— Kiana Anderson (@anderskiana) April 28, 2021
Faculty and colleagues from other departments also voiced their support. “I have never seen such an extraordinary violation of due process, academic freedom and retaliation against a faculty who stood up for JUSTICE,” Linfield English professor Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt wrote on Twitter.
Students and alumni have also protested against professor Pollack-Pelzner’s termination.
The retaliation has prompted the Pacific Northwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and the Oregon Board of Rabbis to demand Linfield’s top leaders to step down. Another investigation by the Salem-Keizer chapter of the NAACP is also looking into possible racial bias at the university.