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CLEARED: Professor vindicated after being suspended for tweets criticizing slavery reparations

However it remains to be seen whether the university will rehire math professor

A three-month investigation into the Twitter history of math Professor Gregory Manco has been concluded and Saint Joseph’s University administrators have determined that it is not possible to conclude the educator violated any campus policies.

“The potential outcomes of an investigation include a finding of more likely than not that a violation of policy occurred, a finding of more likely than not that a violation of policy did not occur, or no determination could be made,” Gail Benner, director of public relations for St. Joseph’s University, told The College Fix via email on Wednesday

“In this case, a definitive determination could not be made due to insufficient evidence,” she said.

Manco, a longtime assistant professor of math at the Philadelphia-based institution, said he feels vindicated and his suspension has ended.

“It is obvious when you read our faculty handbook and anti-discrimination policy that there never should’ve been an investigation in the first place,” Manco told The College Fix this week. “Not to mention my immediate, mid-semester removal from the classroom and baseball field, without any due process regarding that extreme measure.”

“While the external investigation has vindicated me, it is still ultimately up to the university to renew my contract as I am full-time but non-tenured,” he said. “This usually happens each year in late spring so I will know soon.”

“I can take some comfort in knowing that such a decision of reappointment cannot be based even in part on a violation of a faculty member’s academic freedom.”

As The College Fix reported in February, Manco had tweeted three comments from his anonymous Twitter account criticizing slavery reparations and racial bias training.

A written notice from the school’s human resources department to Manco at the time had called the tweets “biased or discriminatory,” and he had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

As for the tweets that had caused the firestorm, in one, Manco compared slavery reparations to the great-great-grandchild of a murder victim asking the perpetrator’s great-great-grandchild for compensation.

“Now get this racist reparation bullshit out of your head for good,” he added in his tweet.

In the second, he argued racial bias training “divides us and *worsens* race relations.”

In the third, he responded, “Yet here you still are” to a woman who said that black people and Native Americans “have been hurt horribly” in America.

But Benner told The College Fix via email on Wednesday that administrators fielded more than a dozen complaints of alleged instances of bias or discriminatory conduct in the classroom and on social media against Manco.

“The University’s policies obligate and guide its response to these reports,” she said. “A thorough review and investigation, conducted by an independent third-party, considered the totality of the information gathered and assessed the submitted reports, which allege bias or discriminatory activity from four years ago through this year.”

It was this probe that determined there was “insufficient evidence” to charge Manco with any policy violations, she said.

According to page five of St. Joseph’s anti-discrimination policy, the university cannot “restrict academic freedom … nor shall it be construed to restrict constitutionally protected expression, even though such expression may be offensive, unpleasant or even hateful.”

Manco has been an assistant professor of math at St. Joseph’s since 2005 and is also a volunteer assistant baseball coach.

After the investigation was launched, support for Manco came from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which told the university that “Manco’s tweets, although offensive to some, do not fall under the First Amendment’s limited categories of unprotected expression. SJU may not punish Manco for his protected extramural expression.”

A Change.org petition in support of Manco had also been launched.

Professor Manco told The Fix that the investigation had been evenhanded, calling the external investigator “very fair and very professional.”

“As I expected from a fair investigation, I was cleared on all counts, not found in violation of any university policies,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that the university recognizes and corrects these mistakes. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this.”

MORE: University suspends professor for tweets

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About the Author
Tyler Hummel -- Flashpoint College Chicago