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Meet the libertarian professor who raised a ruckus at USC

Professor, now retired, promises to continue to call out school for illiberalism

“The progressive monolith hates being called out for the intolerant structure that it is.”

That according to University of Southern California emeritus Professor James Moore, who said that despite the fact that an offer to teach during retirement was rescinded by USC, he still plans to keep his longtime employer in his crosshairs.

The university initially asked him to teach two classes in retirement, but recalled the offer, he said. The industrial and systems engineering scholar, who taught at USC for 34 years, also said his emeritus designation was nearly refused over a history of disagreements with administration and his rejection of “illiberal” thinking.

Moore made headlines in recent years for, among other things, telling the school during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings that sometimes people lie, as well as hanging a Blue Lives Matter flag on his office door and refusing to take it down.

USC Executive Director of Media Relations, Emily Gersema, did not respond to a request for comment.

Moore, in a recent email to The College Fix, said he decided to retire last year for several reasons, including being upset with the push for DEI in university hiring practices.

“What matters in engineering (and public policy, for that matter) is the work, not who does it,” Moore told The Fix. “No dimension of group identity is in and itself a qualification for doing research, or teaching, or learning.”

Another reason Moore said he retired from USC was its decision to suspend 401a contributions to faculty and staff retirement accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing “record endowment growth,” Moore told The Fix he believes “USC’s leadership proceeded dishonestly” and that his “disappointment in them is profound.”

These disagreements, Moore said, “were circumstances I was not going to be able to counter as an individual, and there was not a sufficient number of intellectual allies left in the institution for me to make an organized internal stand for change.”

“At the point you realize that you want to go and you can go, it becomes crazy to stay.”

Writing for the Martin Center for Academic Renewal in July, Moore cited an abnormally long time between the announcement of his retirement and obtaining his emeritus designation.

His piece, headlined “Why I’ll Never Be Allowed to Teach at USC,” details how he accepted an offer to teach a graduate class in retirement in 2022, but later had this offer rescinded by the dean of the Price School of Public Policy.

Moore wrote that he believed the delay in the granting of his emeritus designation and his offer to teach being rescinded were related.

He investigated the situation and, citing a “high-level, trustworthy source,” alleges his emeritus designation was the subject of a meeting involving “at least two deans, the USC president, the USC provost, and the USC general counsel.”

According to Moore, granting emeritus designation is “pro forma in most circumstances,” but not in his case.

Moore had often been the subject of media attention during his tenure at USC.

In 2018, during the Me Too Movement and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Professor Moore replied to all in a school-wide email urging students to “believe all survivors,” claiming “accusers sometimes lie” regarding sexual assault allegations.

He made headlines in 2021 after he hung a Blue Lives Matter flag on his office door, leading an administrator to suggest he take the flag down.

When asked if these previous controversies had anything to do with the delay in his emeritus designation and having his offer to teach rescinded, Moore told The Fix, “They had everything to do with it.”

“Once progressive faculty hit 51% of any department,” Moore said, “no new faculty members with a competing point of view will be hired.”

Despite eventually being granted emeritus designation after a prolonged waiting period, Moore did not have his offer to teach reinstated.

In his op-ed, Moore noted that the presumed reason for this decision was that “If I taught, I would have access to an office, and who knows what I might post on the door?”

Moore told The Fix it’s unfortunate that center-right scholars have to keep hidden their beliefs.

“I have USC colleagues who are conservatives (both Republican and Democrat), libertarians, objectivists, and the like, but they are in hiding,” Moore said. “If they out themselves to the USC community, they will face a loss of opportunities and recognition they want, so they stay in the closet.”

As for his plans, Moore said he is meeting with colleagues to organize a Heterodox Academy group for students and faculty.

This year, Moore was something of a whistleblower against USC when he helped make public the fact that the school prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion over merit and talent when awarding funding to students in PhD programs.

Although he did not end up teaching at USC in retirement, Moore said he’s fine with that.

“In some ways, retirement is even better than tenure,” he said via email. “I have lost some scope in my role since I am not an employee, especially since the central administration has taken the extraordinary step of quietly informing my schools that I must not be hired to teach in retirement. Still, even tenured personnel can be fired by a sufficiently creative administration.”

“No one can be fired from retirement,” he added, “other than by assassination, and I do not think that USC is prepared to go that far.”

MORE: USC professor refuses to remove Blue Lives Matter flag from office door: ‘Blue lives protect black lives

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Garrett Marchand is a pre-law student at the University of Alabama majoring in political science and economics with a minor in the Blount Scholars Program. Garrett is a member of Young Americans for Freedom. He is a contributor for Alabama's student paper, The Crimson White.