Several University of Tennessee (UT) at Knoxville faculty are calling on administrators to reinstate a former tenured professor falsely accused of spying for the Chinese military.
Nanotechnology expert Anming Hu was prosecuted twice for alleged wire fraud and making false statements. He was acquitted of all charges in September after the espionage investigation fell apart.
During the trial, it was revealed that UT administrators did not tell the professor that a federal investigation was being conducted against him. They even cooperated with authorities, suspending him without pay, and eventually firing him.
Days after all charges were dismissed, faculty groups demanded the university allow Hu to work again and receive back pay. According to the American Association of University Professors – UT Chapter President Mary McAlpin, letting go of a tenured instructor sends a frightening message to everyone who works there.
“You would think that a tenured professor would get the largest amount of protection from the university, but in fact they just cut him loose,” she told Knox News.
Amid calls to reinstate Hu, UT Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick said the school is willing to accept Hu again provided that he can verify his authorization to work in the US next year.
He further stated that the professor has consistently worked with the school and the US Customs and Immigration Service since 2013 to ensure he remains at UT.
“Our understanding is that the university has taken all the steps it can to facilitate his federal work authorization, although there may be steps that Dr. Hu can take to move forward,” Zomchick explained.
However, McAlpin quickly rebutted the provost’s statement, saying that acquiring a work visa is the university’s obligation.
“He can’t do it on his own, they have to sponsor him. So it seems to us that they’re trying to railroad him out so they won’t have to deal with him anymore,” she stressed.