Linfield University on Tuesday terminated Daniel Pollack-Pelzer, Ronni Lacroute Chair in Shakespeare Studies, citing his breaches of “duty” to the institution. Pollack-Pelzner, a faculty trustee, recently said that members of Linfield’s Board of Trustees had retaliated against him for urging that they do more about reported sexual misconduct among their ranks. Pollack-Pelzner, who is Jewish, also said that some members of the board, including Linfield president Miles Davis, made anti-Semitic comments to and about him.
A university spokesperson said via email that Pollack-Pelzner was terminated, effective immediately, for cause, including engaging “in conduct that is harmful to the university,” circulating “false statements” about Linfield and its board members, and refusing to “comply with university policies and, in doing so, has been insubordinate and interfered with the university’s administration of its responsibilities.” Linfield also said that Pollack-Pelzner violated attorney-client privilege and divulged confidential information, but Pollack-Pelzner has denied this.
The university looked into Pollack-Pelzner’s allegations before he began to discuss them on social media and with news media. An investigator found that no Linfield policies had been violated. Concerned about the accuracy of those findings and others regarding several members of the board who have been accused of misconduct, Pollack-Pelzner decided to go public.
Earlier this week, Linfield said it was cutting off campus Listservs and that all mass emails — even those about an ongoing curriculum update — need to be vetted and distributed by the vice president’s office. On Tuesday morning, Pollack-Pelzner received a link to a mandatory Zoom meeting for that afternoon. When he asked what it was about, Susan Agre-Kippenhan, provost, responded via email that it was a meeting to “discuss your employment at Linfield.”
Agre-Kippenhan later emailed the campus to say that Linfield had taken “the extraordinary step of terminating the employment of a member of our faculty for serious breaches of the individual’s duty to the institution.” Personnel matters are confidential, she said, but maintaining confidentiality is not always possible, “particularly when the precipitating events involve false public accusations that have, sadly, harmed the university.”
Linfield “unequivocally supports academic freedom and a diversity of opinion and has resoundingly reinforced the goal of a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all,” Agre-Kippenhan said. This can’t be achieved “if individuals abuse their positions of trust and take deliberate actions that harm the university,” she added.
This month, the Oregon Board of Rabbis urged Davis, Linfield’s president, and David Baca, board chair, to step down over board members’ alleged anti-Semitism and their handling of sexual misconduct cases involving other trustees. Linfield’s arts and sciences faculty also passed a vote of no confidence in Davis and Baca. Pollack-Pelzner was not immediately available for comment following the termination.
Linfield said late Tuesday that it “spent the past year attempting to find common ground, but the faculty member’s repeated false and defamatory statements made that impossible. Linfield knows that some in our community may object to this decision, but it is time to move forward.”