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Professor claims Indiana University fired him for bringing racism to forefront

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new lawsuit says Indiana University breached its contract with a former executive vice chancellor and professor of communication, and violated First Amendment rights and their own whistleblower policy after Mark McPhail shared concerns on racism within his department.

McPhail said, “The data shows that there is a great deal of hostility toward African Americans, and primarily African Americans, but I think other people of color on those campuses.”

A report by the American Association of University Professors condemns an allegation made by the school that McPhail made a “threat to physical violence” to white people.

“I never said that, and, as the report points out, it was like the game of telephone,” McPhail said.

The American Association of University Professors report cites nine interviews with current and former IU employees. The report says the allegation of being of threat was found “implausible,” claiming McPhail was explaining his passion for the history of systemic racism in the United States, not making a threat.

The report says McPhail became the target of racism.

“It was pretty traumatic,” said McPhail, describing the moment three campus police officers showed up at his house with a letter banning him from campus. “I hadn’t done anything. There was no communication with me about this.”

McPhail, who began working for IU in 2015, says anonymous complaints were made after he made concerns about racism against Black students and teachers at the school. He says, due to the complaints, he resigned from his position as vice chancellor but stayed on as a professor of communication to keep his tenure.

I-Team 8 asked McPhail if he believes his dismissal was retaliation against some of his research and what he taught on campus. “I think that that’s what the evidence is going to show in court.”

McPhail says he was fired after police showed up at his home.

“In my opinion, Indiana University is using public money to defend itself against wrong that it knows it did. And it’s using the law courts to drag this out and to make my life miserable.”

McPhail told I-Team 8 that he’s looking for the school to acknowledge its wrongdoing and hold people accountable for making false allegations against him.

“The classic stories of George Taliaferro, who was a student at IU, going to (former university president) Herman B. Wells and saying, ‘Hey, they won’t let us eat in town,’ and Wells going into town and saying, ‘Well, if they can’t eat here, nobody can,’ and that’s the kind of courage. It’s concrete commitment to diversity and action and not just words.”


“We disagree with the findings in the AAUP report. Because this involves ongoing litigation, we cannot comment further at this time.

Indiana University spokesperson