Retiring From the Academic Fray


Jon Reisman

A number of readers have commented on recent columns and my impending retirement. Several have asked how and/or why I survived in the liberal academic environment for almost forty years. At least one is very pleased with my departure, having recently threatened to write to the University of Maine System Chancellor and UM/UMM President demanding my immediate termination (I sent them the necessary e-mail addresses and told them to get in line).
Over my first 15 years at UMM under Presidents Fred “Deke” Reynolds and Paul Nordstrom, toleration of heterodox opinions reigned due to the academy’s traditional commitment to academic freedom, free inquiry and free speech. That ended in the early 21st century with an increasingly monolithic and unapologetically authoritarian leftist faculty and administration committed to diversity of every sort except for intellectual and viewpoint diversity.

I got a taste of leftist intolerance of dissenting views when I convinced the UMS Board of Trustees  and Chancellor that a system-wide effort to define diversity policies was the prudent path to follow, if only to avoid litigation. I had failed to get such a policy defining committee established at UMM after the leading campus feminist argued that I would use the First Amendment to harm diversity. When the Chancellor ordered that each campus establish such a committee, President Nordstrom appointed the very feminist firebrand who had opposed establishing such a committee as the UMM campus chair. I was able to get intellectual diversity inserted in to UMM’s definition, although it has since been long forgotten under a barrage of woke Diversity, Equity and Inclusion dictates.

My retirement assures its permanent loss down the memory hole.

President Nordstrom retired and was replaced by a Chicago area leftist (think Bill Ayers, Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson and Lori Lightfoot). That President initiated an effort to brand UMM as an icon of “sustainability” and environmental political correctness. He was not pleased when I published several climate change policy articles suggesting that state based efforts to implement the unratified Kyoto Treaty and partner with other states and Canadian provinces to do the same without the consent of Congress suffered from serious Constitutional concerns. The New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Agreement eventually became the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI or “Reggie”) which continues to generously fund Efficiency Maine, green crony capitalism and Maine Public. As recent Democratic criticism of the SCOTUS decision in West Virginia vs. EPA demonstrated, the environmental left rejects the Constitution if it impedes their religious climate fanaticism. The appropriate quote is “By any means necessary.”

The President apparently agreed, and I am told he initiated efforts to censor me (the Chicago way). I only have hearsay testimony to back up that claim, but I figure if it is good enough for Liz Cheney and the January 6th Committee, that should be sufficient. Apparently, someone mentioned the terms academic freedom and free speech to the President, but he persisted.

Facing a hostile work environment, I took my one and only sabbatical and quietly began a job search, even considering a move to Husson. However, that May the President was stricken and passed away at the graduation ceremony. I returned to a somber and gloomy campus, which never really recovered.
I continued to publish critical climate change and environmental policy articles and was involved in several high profile legislative and policy fights. This activism triggered some of the most rabidly liberal faculty members, who alternated between insisting I defend my conservative views in a star chamber of their choice and desperately trying to shut me up. Today it would be called de-platforming/cancelling.

In the twilight of my academic career, I returned to weekly punditry with Freedom Studies. My writing still reliably triggers my leftist colleagues. Predictable charges of racism, homophobia and transphobia have been hurled. These epithets are defined as what you are called when you win an argument with a liberal, especially if you quote the Constitution. I expect there will be a surreptitious effort to deny me emeritus status. To quote Groucho Marx, perhaps I should “… refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

Effective September 1 2022, Jon Reisman is retiring from the University of Maine at Machias after 38 years.  Mr. Reisman’s views are his own and he welcomes comments as letters to the editor here, or to him directly via email at [email protected].

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