SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: May 04, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Taylor University

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 4, 2023, Julie Moore, an associate professor of English at Taylor University and the director of the Writing Center, reported that her contract would not be renewed, a decision apparently made because of Moore’s teaching, which included content about racial and social justice issues.

Moore had been teaching at Taylor University in a term position, subject to annual renewal. According to Moore, Taylor University Provost Jewerl Maxwell had told her that students had complained about some of the assigned readings related to racial justice in Moore’s classes. Of particular concern was work by Jemar Tisby discussing the interconnectedness of Christianity and racism. Prior to the decision not to renew her contract, Moore’s colleagues had given her positive performance reviews and their support for contract renewal.

Following the decision, more than 900 members of the Taylor University community signed an open letter condemning the decision not to reappoint Moore, and calling for the university administration to apologize and reinstate her. Over 3,000 people signed a petition created by anonymous Taylor University students, similarly, calling for the university administration to reverse the reappointment decision.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the denial of an otherwise meritorious appointment to a professor in apparent retaliation for the content of their teaching. Higher education authorities should refrain from such disciplinary actions on apparently political grounds and uphold strong due process standards for faculty. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, denial stemming from such activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.