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Oregon university that fired professor who reported antisemitic incidents settles with him for $1M


(JTA) – A university in Oregon that fired a Jewish professor after he reported several incidents, including purported antisemitic remarks made by its president, has settled with the professor.

Linfield University, a private school in McMinnville, will pay $1 million to English professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner for his wrongful termination in 2021. Pollack-Pelzner had accused the school’s president, Miles K. Davis, of making antisemitic remarks in front of him, including jokes about gas chambers and comments on the size of Jewish noses. He was fired shortly after he went public with these and other accusations, including some regarding allegations of sexual harassment directed at members of the school’s board of trustees.

After his termination, Pollack-Pelzner, who was tenured, sued the school for $4 million. A report on his firing last year by the American Association of University Professors found that Linfield had violated Pollack-Pelzner’s academic freedom and right to due process.

The settlement shields the university from further legal action by Pollack-Pelzner, but does not prevent him from talking about the case. A spokesperson for Pollack-Pelzner’s law firm told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the settlement does not include details about any particular claims he made against the university, nor does it require the school to apologize to him.

Several people affiliated with Linfield left the university in solidarity with Pollack-Pelzner in the wake of his firing, including the trustee who had endowed the professor’s chair in the English department, and the director of the school’s vaunted wine studies program. Linfield is affiliated with American Baptist Churches.

Pollack-Pelzner is currently a visiting professor at Portland State University and scholar-in-residence at the Portland Shakespeare Project. Davis remains in his position as Linfield’s president nearly three years after Pollack-Pelzner’s firing, despite calls from the Anti-Defamation League, the Oregon Board of Rabbis and other groups for his resignation.

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