‘This antiracist program threatens racist donor money,’ he alleged
A tenure track history professor who has been sharply critical of his college has reached an out-of-court settlement with the University of Mississippi over the school ending his contract with him, with one year’s notice.
Garrett Felber “was informed last December that his contract would not be renewed and his termination would take affect Dec. 31 of this year. Felber taught at Ole Miss for four years prior to receiving the termination notice,” according to Magnolia State Live.
The school insists that it did nothing wrong and chalks the dismissal up to two things: a lack of communication between Felber and his supervisor and a disagreement about a grant. Magnolia State Live reports:
Felber studies race and incarceration in the U.S. and is a dedicated advocate for people who are imprisoned.
A grant was rejected by university officials for a project Felber was working on concerning mass incarceration and immigrant detention. The university said the grant was rejected because the study Felber working on was a political instead of historical, which might jeopardize department funding.
Inside Higher Ed adds some context to the disagreement between Felber and his department, by characterizing the professor as a “prison abolitionist.”
That disagreement led to some explosive public charges by Felber against Ole Miss and the school’s donors. Felber, who is white, wrote on Twitter in October 2020:
The real issue is that [the University of Mississippi] prioritizes racist donors over all else. So it’s not some mythic politics v. history binary, but that this antiracist program threatens racist donor money. And racism is the brand. It’s in the name.
Now that we've dispelled with that. The real issue is that @OleMissRebels prioritizes racist donors over all else. So it's not some mythic politics v. history binary, but that this antiracist program threatens racist donor money. And racism is the brand. It's in the name.
— Garrett Felber (@garrett_felber) October 28, 2020
In a statement to the press, Felber’s lawyer Rob McDuff insisted that they had a good case but that his client had opted to take an undisclosed percentage of a loaf because “litigation takes a long time and Dr. Felber’s decision to focus on continuing his important work in the future makes total sense.”
The University of Mississippi’s statement said that it “stands by the process…followed [in this matter], the ruling of the faculty committee that reviewed this case and the decisions made” but also wished “Dr. Felber well as he pursues his future opportunities.”
Felber could have stayed on until the end of the year, per the reported terms of his contract. Instead, he is decamping to Yale for a fellowship at the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration.
Felber concluded his parting statement on Twitter:
I remain in humble solidarity with all of those working to make the state’s flagship university serve the people of Mississippi, who have demanded to know, simply and firmly, again and again: which side are you on?
Here's the press release and my full statement on the University of Mississippi. Solidarity. pic.twitter.com/0C3kd4JeQ9
— Garrett Felber (@garrett_felber) July 29, 2021
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