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Apr 12, 2014 09:40 AM EDT

UNCW Professor to Receive Promotion and $50,000 in Anti-Discrimination Lawsuit (UPDATE)

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The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ordered Wednesday that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington pay $50,000 to criminology professor Mike Adams for denying him promotion to full professor status in 2006, Wednesday.

On March 20, a federal jury found UNCW guilty of retaliating against the prominent conservative columnist for his religious views.

 "This ruling sends a message to public universities: Academic freedom isn't just for the Left, it's a constitutional right for all professors - even Christian conservatives," said David French, senior counsel at the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, which represented Mr. Adams, Washington Times reports.

Adams sued the University after the school's sociology department declined his application for a full professorship despite numerous teaching awards, positive reviews, 125 public speaking appearances and 11 published peer-reviewed articles.

"In fact, no professor with a similar number of peer-reviewed publications had ever been denied promotion at the Department level," said the lawsuit.

Adams said that he was frequently targeted by his colleagues after he converted to Christianity from atheism in 2000 and became a conservative columnist on Townhall.com. He was referred to as "wannabe right-wing pundit"; "pathological liar"; "mentally unbalanced" and "mean-spirited".

University Chancellor Gary L. Miller said that he was "eager to foster conversations on our campus about the issues involved with this case and how we will move forward as a university."

"This university is committed to a number of fundamental values, among them academic freedom; freedom of speech; and the essential nature of peer review, based on merit, within the faculty evaluation process," Miller said. "We have steadfastly supported and will continue to support the right of Dr. Adams and all faculty to express those beliefs openly and without fear of retaliation."

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