Ole Miss professor slammed for tweet gets tenure after debate

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019

Trustees of Mississippi’s eight public universities are granting tenure to a University of Mississippi sociology professor who was criticized for encouraging “acts of aggression” against Republican politicians.

Trustees voted Thursday after earlier removing Professor James Michael Thomas’ name from a list of 76 routine approvals of tenure and discussing his case individually in a two-hour closed session.

Thomas was critical that he was singled out. He says professors shouldn’t face workplace consequences for political statements, citing academic freedom guidelines.

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In October, as Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Thomas tweeted that protesters should confront senators in restaurants and elsewhere, saying “they don’t deserve your civility.”

Then-Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter on Facebook condemned “statements that encourage acts of aggression.” Republican Gov. Phil Bryant also condemned the statement.