UNCW pays Mike Adams more than $500K to retire early

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The University of North Carolina Wilmington has revealed how much it cost for controversial professor Mike Adams to retire early.

Chancellor Jose Sartarelli released a statement Thursday stating that the university only had three realistic options when handling the backlash over the senior tenured professor’s social media posts and comments.

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Those options were the following:

1) Have him continue as a faculty member and accept the ongoing disruption to our educational mission, the hurt and anger in the UNCW community, and the damage to the institution.

2) Attempt to terminate him, and face drawn out, very costly litigation, that we might not win, which was the case when Dr. Adams sued UNCW and won a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit in 2014. That legal process lasted 7 years and cost the university roughly $700,000, $615,000 of which was for Dr. Adams’ attorneys’ fees. Losing a similar lawsuit today could cost even more.

3) Negotiate a settlement when, as part of a conversation with me about his conduct and future at UNCW, I learned Dr. Adams was interested in retiring. This approach allows us to resolve the situation quickly, with certainty, and in the most fiscally responsible way. This is the best option for our university and our community.

Sartarelli says after extensive negotiation, the two parties reached a total settlement amount of $504,702.76 for lost salary and lost retirement benefits.

This agreement was approved by the North Carolina Attorney General and the UNC Board of Governors.

Adams will retire on August 1.

Some students say they’re happy to see him go, but they wish it had been under different circumstances.

“We weren’t exactly satisfied because he still left with a pension and with that retirement,” says UNCW Black Student Union President Chris Neal.

“We’re happy to see him go especially with his statements on Twitter and other social media, but we feel like things could have been handled in a more just way,”says Kelton Mills.

Sartarelli adds Adams will be paid over a five-year period with all payments coming from discretionary trust dollars, (i.e. savings from previous years) and not state-budgeted funds.

Students says the university could have taken another route, ultimately letting things be decided in court.

“That would have shown students that are invested in what they’re saying,” says UNCW student Kaela Bedics. “They are invested in their safety, their protection and really demonstrating that this harassment, this stalking, cyber stalking, what have you, is not tolerated.”

But Sartarelli said in his statement that the settlement was the best option.

“This resolution is less damaging to UNCW than leaving the situation unresolved,” Sartarelli stated. “In addition to saving money, the settlement will prevent the continued disruption to our educational mission, reduce concerns around campus safety, and lessen the harm to the institution. Dollars are precious, but our institutional integrity is priceless.”

The chancellor says as July progresses, UNCW will share an action plan that outlines specific steps we will take to honor and demonstrate the values of inclusivity, cultural awareness, equality, and transparency.

“This planning takes time, deliberation, and most importantly, the input, feedback, and support of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, especially our Black communities,” he stated. “It’s critical for UNCW’s future that we get it right. I hope you will join us in making it happen.”

Chris Neal, President of the Black Student Union at UNCW, says while this is a step in the right direction, there is more to be done.

“Affirmative action to appease the black people and I would not want that to happen with UNCW,” says Neal. “Just to have little things to appease us, but lasting action, lasting change. Things that last for generations and generations.”