Chapman University’s John Eastman has announced his retirement
John Eastman : In recent days, John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, has agreed to leave due to his contentious participation with some of Donald Trump’s more outrageous electoral claims.
Eastman’s retirement was announced in a brief statement issued by Chapman President Daniele Struppa on Wednesday. Eastman issued a statement as well, stating that he had “mixed thoughts” about retiring.
“Dr. John Eastman and Chapman University have reached an agreement under which he will retire from Chapman effective immediately, following conversations over the last week.
Dr. Eastman’s resignation brings an end to a difficult chapter for Chapman and paves the way for both the Chapman community and Dr. Eastman to move forward.
As both parties move forward, Chapman and Dr. Eastman have agreed not to pursue any legal action, including any defamation claim that may now exist.”
“The university will not make any additional statements on this topic because it is unable to comment on the specifics of secret personnel matters.”
Following his on-stage appearance with Rudy Giuliani at a rally in Washington, D.C., Chapman was under further pressure to address concerns about Eastman.
At the event, Eastman stated, “We know there was fraud.” “We know that people who are no longer alive voted.”
Following the protest, a mob stormed the United States Capitol, sparking a violent insurgency that resulted in the deaths of five people.
Eastman, who joined the Chapman faculty in 1999 and is now a visiting researcher at the University of Colorado, held the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service, an endowed academic position at Chapman.
He was also the Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and the Dean of the Law School for three years (2007-2010), according to his university bio.
Chapman faculty had recently called for Eastman’s removal, but despite the fact that Eastman’s actions “are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution,” Chapman President Daniele Struppa refused to try to have Eastman fired (an action the letter does not explicitly request), citing the university’s Faculty Manual:
“I am obligated by laws and procedures that are written out in detail in our Faculty Manual. Despite its conventional name, the Faculty Manual is a contractually binding document that has been agreed upon by faculty, administration, and Trustees.
This paper lays out the guidelines for how academics are appointed and reprimanded, up to and including termination.” …
“The Manual allows for the dismissal of faculty members who have been convicted of a felony, but this is not the case today.
Faculty who are disbarred are allowed to be fired under the Manual, although this is not the situation now. T
he Manual forbids me from deciding on my own that any faculty member is a criminal or should be disbarred and so fired, as I am being requested to do.
The university can fire a faculty member if a jury finds them guilty of a felony or if they are disbarred, according to the Manual.
The university has no authority to act in place of these official bodies.”
Eastman’s conduct “should disqualify him from the privilege of teaching law to our students and divest him of the dignity of an endowed chair,” according to a letter written to the Los Angeles Times on January 8 by more than 150 Chapman academics and members of the board of trustees.
“Free speech is sacred,” it said, “and tenured professors like Eastman have the opportunity of stating their minds without fear of retaliation.”
Eastman, on the other hand, took advantage of his freedom… It is no longer permitted when discourse crosses the line into violence and insurgency.”
“On this foundation, it is time to move beyond President Struppa’s defence of free speech to address a new scenario, a very real threat, and an attempt to destroy our democracy.
We demand that Chapman University officials, especially the Faculty Senate, the President, the Provost, and the Dean of Fowler Law School, act swiftly to punish John Eastman for his role in the January 6 events.”
“Chapman’s aim is to deliver “distinguished personalised education that leads to curious, ethical, and productive lives,” the letter ended.
Over the last year, none of Eastman’s acts have been ethical, productive, or noteworthy.
Throughout the year, students and faculty have urged for his racist behaviour to be punished. He has no right to be on our campus.”
It’s unclear what tipped the scales in favour of Eastman’s resignation, but those who wanted him removed from the university had scheduled more meetings to pursue their grievances.
A special meeting of the faculty senate has been called for Friday to debate another resolution targeting Eastman, according to Lisa Leitz, one of the professors who signed the January 8 letter.
And President Struppa and Park Kennedy, Chair of Chapman’s Board of Trustees, received a letter from Chapman’s Black alumni on January 13 demanding “the immediate dismissal of faculty member, John Eastman.”
This much is certain: the consequences from last week’s deadly events in D.C. will continue to reverberate across the academy.
The topic of how universities and colleges deal with their academics, employees, or students who were involved in various ways in those events is one of the many significant principles at stake.
One of the first chapters in this unfolding tale will be the Chapman-Eastman scandal.
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