A group of prominent St. Joseph’s University alumni staged a small on-campus protest Friday, saying the university delivered a blow to academic freedom by choosing not to renew the contract of assistant professor Greg Manco. The protestors say that in addition to voicing their discontent, they plan to organize with other alumni to end donations, or plans to donate via their wills and estates, to the university.

After a small group of students complained in February that Manco authored Tweets they deemed to be racist, Manco was put under investigation by the university administration. In May, the months-long investigation concluded with “no determination” of wrongdoing. However, in July, the university dropped Manco’s year-to-year contract, which he had held continuously for 17 years, citing a re-evaluation of staffing needs.

“When they fire a professor who did nothing wrong, something’s really wrong with the university when that can happen,” said Chris Lehman, who organized the protest scheduled to coincide with a 50-year class reunion. “And, uh, I certainly hope that professor Manco will be rehired at a minimum. And if not, he ought to sue the pants off them.”

READ MORE St. Joe’s drops contract for professor involved in free-speech controversy

Lehman served as a national security special assistant in the Reagan administration, and his brother, John, was secretary of the Navy. He said the number of protesters would have been bigger if not for COVID-related travel problems.

Those alumni who did descend on campus Friday say they’re contacting more like-minded graduates across the nation in hopes of convincing them to withhold donations to St. Joe’s.

So far, “there are at least six people I know of who have — not threatened — they’ve actually taken St Joe’s out of their will or their estate plan, and I know other people,” who are thinking of doing the same, Lehman said. “And I think when the school year starts and more students are around, hopefully some of the students will start paying attention because the fact is the teachers are, the professors are afraid to speak up because they’re afraid they’ll be doxed and accused of being a racist or, worse, getting fired.” 

“Our alumni are welcome to direct their donations however and wherever they choose,” Gail Benner, a spokesperson for St. Joe’s said in response to a request for comment on the protest and threats to withhold donations. 

The protesters supplied a letter from a Nevada alumus addressed to the university president saying he “will not be contributing the substantial six-figure amount I had in [my] estate plan to a university that allows and even participates actively in the take-down of a math professor who has done nothing wrong.”

Broad + Liberty is not naming that alumus or posting that letter because the individual’s identity and intent have not been verified.

A Nevada alumnus writes he ‘will not be contributing the substantial six-figure amount I had in [my] estate plan to a university that allows and even participates actively in the take-down of a math professor who has done nothing wrong.’

For years, Manco has anonymously operated the Twitter account @SouthJerzGiants.

A small number of students and former students flagged content on that account to the university as racist and revealed Manco as the author for Tweets published on Feb. 17th. The university removed Manco from his classroom duties two days later.

Manco has never deleted the Tweet or the account that ignited the issue.

Manco has continuously argued that the investigation was misguided, that removing him from the classroom for the duration of the investigation was against university policy, and that the entire ordeal was a death blow to his reputation.

On campus Friday, Lehman agreed with Manco and said that St. Joe’s has even misrepresented the findings of its investigation by publicly saying that they could come to “no determination.”

“I will tell you that the investigation report finds no evidence that he violated any university rule,” Lehman said. “I’ve seen the document. I know what’s in it…the fact is he was found innocent.”

Manco’s story has also caught the attention of Jonathan Turley, an attorney and frequent contributor on cable news.

“For other faculty members, the message could not be more clear: free speech rights will not protect you,” Turley wrote on his own website. “He will be viewed as damaged goods or a prohibitively high risk by any other school. The campaign to punish him for his opposing views will likely resume at any school considering him for a new position. Once tagged, you are shunned and sanctioned.”

‘For other faculty members, the message could not be more clear: free speech rights will not protect you…’

The spectre of a lawsuit by Manco is still hanging in the air, according to Lehman.

However, “Manco will face obvious challenges in any lawsuit,” Turley wrote

“These are discretionary decisions and most courts do not want micromanage academic decision making. The university knows that. It wanted to avoid further controversy by terminating the academic. Problem solved. However, there remains a danger that a court could allow such a case to go to discovery and Manco could demand documents and depositions to expose any connection to his earlier investigation.” 

Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at tshepherd at broadandliberty.com, or use his encrypted email at shepherdreports at protonmail.com.

6 thoughts on “St. Joe’s alumni threaten to withhold donations over firing of professor”

  1. It is important to speak up and out when a prestigious university attempts to silence one of their own faculty when allegations were made against the content and nature of his personal views where an investigation found “no determination”. Right or left, conservative or liberal, republican or democratic, our Constitution protects one’s right to share our views, philosophies and understanding even when (and in spite of) the philosophy and viewpoint of the university culture in which it is made public.

    St. Joseph’s University
    B.S. Mathematics, 1974

    1. The Constitution protects free speech by ensuring that the GOVERNMENT (or if you want to be a true originalist, Congress) doesn’t make laws telling private entities what they can and can’t say. Whether you agree with st.joe’s decision it’s this very Constitution that ensures their right to make it without the interference of politicians or government idealogues.

      On the other hand, we have right wingers trying to have career politicians and government bureaucrats silence teachers by LAW if they teach students certain things that upset their narrative.

  2. Right wingers: We need “academic freedom” and should be outraged by this private university’s decision.

    Also Right wingers: We need to have career politicians and bureaucrats censor public school curriculums BY LAW if it questions our political narrative on race.

    What a truly twisted view of “free speech” the modern right has.

  3. On the other hand, we have right wingers trying to have career politicians and government bureaucrats silence teachers by LAW if they teach students certain things that upset their narrative.

    This iS exactly what St. Joes’s did!
    Probably UNLAWFULLY and if not unlawful, certainly morally questionable!
    In my opinion, they made the wrong decision.
    When I attended, we looked at all perspectives, not just one.
    Looks like those days are gone.

    As for CRT, we already teach history. CRT when taken to the extreme, which is what many are doing, promotes division & hate towards white people. Not exactly what we need now. Just teach history..it’s all there, the good, the bad & the ugly.

    1. No. St. Joe’s did not pass any laws. It is a private institution. You can believe they made the wrong staffing decision all you want but I don’t see how it’s unlawful or unconstitutional.

      You can disagree with CRT as much as you want too (I’m not defending it myself). But you can’t say you want to censor it because of its politics and then claim you stand for diverse political viewpoints and academic free speech. At least not without rational people calling you out on the hypocrisy.

  4. Why would a handful of St. Joseph University Alumni respectfully participate in a protest for the first time in their lives? Because after six months of trying to help the administration correct a miscarriage of justice and with no satisfactory response from the senior leadership of the University, the group determined that the matter needed to be brought to the attention of the public and the tens of thousands of alumni who received an outstanding education at Saint Joe’s before the university joined the ranks of the “woke” social justice warrior training camps that are now widespread across the United States.
    It is believed by many, St. Joseph’s has like so many other universities, steadily drifted away from its mission of educating students in a manner consistent with American values and has drifted further and further to the left.

    The protest on August 13th was in direct response to the leftist “woke” administration’s firing of a Math Professor for his private anonymous Twitter comments regarding the issue of reparations. A small group of former students discovered the professor’s tweet and determined to punish him for his views by complaining to the University that the professor was a racist who didn’t like black people. They organized a campaign to get him fired and generated a number of anonymous complaints filed with the university. The university, before an investigation could even be started, determined that the professor should be removed from his teaching duties and suspended from the university while an investigation was pursued.

    By doing so, the university violated its own rules as well as the standing guidance of the American Association of University Professors and allowed a small group to use a new tool of the left that used social media to smear the professor, declare him a racist and then let him sit at home awaiting the results of the investigation. By surrendering to this kind of pressure, the university violated a fundamental principle established in our Constitution that an individual is innocent until proven guilty.

    By removing the professor from his teaching duties and suspending him, the university aided and abetted the woke mob and decided to brand the professor as guilty until proven innocent. “Guilty until proven innocent” is a third-world standard of justice.

    The university’s outside law firm investigated for three months and filed a report that essentially exonerated the professor with a finding of “no evidence” of racism and that the professor violated any rules of the university. The investigator’s report used the term “no evidence” more than a dozen times in the ten-page report. Despite this, the leftist administrators determined they would essentially side with the woke mob and found a way to send the professor to the unemployment lines!

    This is not justice! It is a gross injustice and an action that has brought shame to the university that we love and that we used to respect. As an alumni group, we don’t want to force our views on the university or on anyone, but we do believe in the principle of equal justice and the constitutional principle of innocent until proven guilty. When the investigator finds “no evidence” of wrongdoing, the university’s response should have been to apologize profusely and loudly for allowing such an injustice to have occurred and restore the professor to the classroom. Instead, the university chose to not renew his contract utilizing the lame excuse that there was no need for math professors all while they were seeking to hire some new part-time math professors.

    With respect to the Professor Manco issue, this is absolutely a case where the university adopted a “guilty until proven innocent’ form of justice. The professor was left hanging for eleven weeks having been publicly branded as a racist and punished with removal from the classroom and suspension from the university.

    This, by itself, is an injustice of massive proportions and this injustice has now been compounded by the university intentionally choosing to not renew his contract, thus sending him to the ranks of the unemployed effective last week … with his reputation in tatters and his future employment prospects damaged severely.

    To quote from a recent email sent to President Reed by a distinguished alumnus, “As a loyal alumnus it is troubling to read press and internet reports of wokeness and critical race theory at St. Joe’s. In particular, the firing of Professor Manco seems to have all the markings of a political purge….”

    It is the issue of the university’s willingness to participate in such a miscarriage of justice and the more general drift to the left that has caused a growing number of alumni to express their disapproval of these actions. It is also why many alumni have revised their charitable giving plans and their wills to remove Saint Joe’s from the list of beneficiaries. In the photo that accompanied the Philadelphia Inquirer article dated August 13th with the headline “Citing St. Joe’s increasing ‘wokeism,’ a small group of alumni say they will withhold donations,” one of the protest signs carried by a protestor stated: “Hell no; no more dough… for Saint Joe!”

    The bottom line here is that we are not seeking to hurt our Alma Mater but, instead, to force the senior leadership to review the matter and repair the injustice that has taken place where an innocent man has been cancelled; branded as a racist; and sent to the ranks of the unemployed… all with the complicity of the university.

    Any time an innocent man or woman is dealt an injustice and has their future employment prospects damaged severely, every decent person should be standing up and demanding that justice be restored.
    In the words of a 1964 graduate who wrote to the President of the university “… assert your leadership and reverse the blunder and order Professor Manco re-hired before irreparable damage is done to the reputation and future of St Joe’s.
    For now, our position is: “No more dough…for Saint Joe.”
    Most parents are unwilling to see their children attend a school that is little more than an expensive political indoctrination camp and it appears that Saint Joe’s is moving in that direction.
    Concerning “Wokeism” read this article – https://www.convergemedia.org/wokeism-the-new-religion-of-the-west/ . The Bible tells us you cannot serve two masters. St. Joseph’s needs to return to its Catholic Christian roots and reject the Religion of Wokeism.

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