University of Massachusetts Nursing Dean Fired After Saying “Everyone’s Life Matters” [Updated]

downloadWe have been discussing the growing fear of professors and students over the loss of free speech on campuses for years, but recently those concerns have been greatly magnified with the investigation or termination of professors for expressing opposing views about police abuse, Black Lives Matter movement or aspects of the protests following the killing of George Floyd.  There is a sense of a new orthodoxy that does not allow for dissenting voices as campaigns are launched to fire faculty who are denounced as insensitive or even racist for such criticism.  The most recent controversy involves the recently installed University of Massachusetts-Lowell Dean of Nursing Leslie Neal-Boylan. Dr. Neal-Boylan had only been in her position for a few months when she was fired.  The reason, according to many reports, is that she sent an email on June 2 to the Solomont School of Nursing on the recent anti-racism demonstrations across the country that include the words “everyone’s life matters.” As a blog dedicated to free speech, it has been difficult to keep up with the rising number of cases of the curtailment of speech or academic freedom on our campuses.  What is equally alarming is the relative silence of most faculty members as individual professors are publicly denounced by their universities, forced into retirement, or outright terminated for expressing dissenting views.  This case however raises an equally serious concern over the loss of due process for academics who find themselves the focus of a campaign for removal — or simply summary dismissal.

I reached out to the University and updated the column with the response, which does not clarify most of these questions but suggests that the Dean may have been terminated for other reasons.  I have also reached out to Dr. Neal-Boylan for a response on both the cause and merits for her termination.

Dr. Neal-Boylan was heralded last September as a “visionary leader” by the university in taking over the deanship.  Her writings include strong advocacy for those with disabilities in the nursing field. Those writings show tremendous empathy and concern for inclusivity in the profession.

This controversy began when Dr. Neal-Boylan wrote the email which started with the following words: “Dear SSON Community,” the email provided to Campus Reform begins. “I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS. No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe.”

One can understand that many felt that the statement detracted from the need to focus on the treatment and loss of black lives. However, one can also read these words as a nursing dean expressing opposition to all violence.  However, the email was immediately denounced in a tweet as “uncalled for” and “upsetting”  by “Haley.”  The university quickly responded to Haley and said “Haley – Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The university hears you and we believe black lives matter. See the letter the chancellor sent out Monday.”  The letter isa statement in support of Black Lives Matter.  Soon thereafter the University reportedly fired Dr. Neal-Boylan.

University spokesperson Christine Gillette issued a statement to the site Campus Reform Wednesday that stated  “The university ended the employment of Dr. Neal-Boylan on June 19 after 10 months in her role as dean of the Solomont School of Nursing. As with all such decisions, it was made in the best interest of the university and its students.”

What is particularly concerning is a June 19 letter referenced on the site that was allegedly written by Neal-Boylan and sent to Provost Julie Nash. The letter states “It is important to point out that no one ever gave me an opportunity to share my views of how the college and school were interacting nor explain myself regarding the BLM email. My meeting with you, [Dean] Shortie [McKinney], and Lauren Turner was clearly not intended to give me an opportunity to defend my actions. I was condemned without trial.”

The statement from the university does not state what specifically is “in the best interest of the university and its students.”  However, the failure to specifically state the grounds and the process used to reach the decision is alarming.  The University let the public record stand — and the view that Dr. Neal-Boylan was fired for expressing the view that “Black Lives Matter, but also Everyone’s Life Matters.”

What is “in the best interest of the university and its students” should include free speech and due process.  The mere fact that we do not know if Dr. Neal-Boylan was afforded either right is chilling.  If there were other grounds against her, the university should state so.  Instead, the clear message to faculty is that the dean was fired for expressing concerns over the loss of lives across the country in these protests.

I can understand the sensitivity to those who feel that the inclusion of other lives tends to take away the focus on the need for action on the treatment of African-Americans in our society.  However, it is possible that, as a leading health care figure, Dr. Neal-Boylan was speaking out to seek to end all violence in the protection of human life.  Medical and health care professionals tend to oppose all loss of life and violence.  The question is whether an academic should be able to express such a view and, equally importantly, whether there is a process through which a professor can defend herself in explaining the motivation and intended meaning of her words.

The uncertainty over the process used in this case creates an obvious chilling effect for other faculty members. In 30 years of teaching, I have never seen the level of fear among faculty over speaking or writing about current events, particularly if they do not agree with aspects of the protests.  Not only is there a sense of forced silence but universities have been conspicuously silent in the face of the destruction of their own public art and statues. Even New York Times editors can be forced out for simply publishing opposing views.

As we have previously discussed, chilling effects on free speech has long been a focus of the Supreme Court.  Free speech demands bright line rules to flourish. The different treatment afforded faculty creates an obviously chilling effect on free speech.  Avoiding the chilling effect of potential punishment for speech is a core concern running through Supreme Court cases.  For example, in 1964, the Supreme Court struck down the law screening incoming mail. A unanimous court, Justice William Douglas rejected the law as “a limitation on the unfettered exercise of the addressee’s First Amendment rights.” It noted that such review “is almost certain to have a deterrent effect” on the free speech rights of Americans, particularly for “those who have sensitive positions:”

Obviously, many of these schools are private institutions but freedom of speech and academic freedom have long been the touchstones of the academy. What concerned me most was that I could not find a university statement on a matter that resulted in the canning of one of its deans — just an ominous note that the page of Dr. Neal-Boylan can no longer be found.

Update:

I contacted the University to confirm (1) whether Dr. Neil-Boylan was fired for her statement about “everyone’s life matters” and (2) whether she was given an opportunity to hear the complaints against her and to contest the allegations.

The university responded with this statement:

“Leslie Neal-Boylan’s employment at UMass Lowell ended on June 19, after she was informed she would no longer serve as dean of the Solomont School of Nursing. She had been in that role for 10 months. Although a tenured full faculty member, she declined to join the nursing faculty. As with all such employment decisions, it was made in the best interests of the university and its students. Although we are not able to discuss specifics of a personnel matter, it would be incorrect to assume any statement by Dr. Neal-Boylan was the cause of that decision.”

This suggests that there were other reasons for the termination but, if the letter posted from Dr. Neal-Boylan is accurate, she was not aware of what those reasons might be.  If she is unaware of those allegations, this would be a rather Orwellian position where the university protects her privacy by refusing to confirm the basis for her termination even to herself.  I was hoping that the University would at least say that she was given those reasons and an opportunity to defend herself.  Instead, the university did not deny the allegation that Dr. Neal-Boylan was denied the opportunity to respond and contest any allegations.

The problem with the response is it leaves even more questions.  Dr. Neal-Boylan was fired soon after the University public stated that it was looking into the controversy over her statement.  She has said that she does not know any other reason, or at least that is what the letter posted on the Campus Reform site suggests.  Indeed, she is being quoted as writing:

“Her firing was “attributable to one phrase in my initial email that otherwise was very clearly a message to NOT discriminate against anyone. To those students who were upset regarding my email, wouldn’t it have been better to use that as a teachable opportunity to explain that leaders also make mistakes and use this as an example of why lifelong learning is so important?”

If her firing was unrelated to the statement, the University could have so stated without any violation of privacy. Such a clarification would have put to rest concerns over free speech.  Instead, there is lingering confusion, including with the subject of the action.

316 thoughts on “University of Massachusetts Nursing Dean Fired After Saying “Everyone’s Life Matters” [Updated]”

  1. Why do football teams get relegated? Because they aren’t as good as other teams.

    Likewise, things like this happen because the loudest opponents of such things just aren’t that good.

    What the U.S. desperately needs is a smart, sane, patriotic, big tent opposition to SJWs. Currently, we have the opposite on each of those.

  2. “Although we are not able to discuss specifics of a personnel matter, it would be incorrect to assume any statement by Dr. Neal-Boylan was the cause of that decision.”

    Immediately, I hone in on the word “assume.”

    Hahaha, what a cop-out by the University.

    It you deleted “assume” it would essentially say, “It would be incorrect that any statement by Dr. Neal-Boylan was rhe cause of that decision.”

    Versus

    The same language with the word assume.

    *****************

    So, the first makes it definitive, we did not fire her because of her statement.

    The second makes it a toss-up, you should not assume we fired her because of her statement.

    *************

    I am going to go out on a limb here and say, “assume” the University fired her for what she said because they are not disputing it whatsoever in their statement, but rather playing hide the ball.

      1. PCS – Lol,

        If one it to assume here, then the underlying assumption of theirs that they, by telling us, what actions to take in our own assumptions about what has or has not transpired in the matter, then . . .

        I would, equally, go a step farther and say that I shall assume that they are requesting us to take no action by herein making no assumptions in the matter while implicitly stating that one may, or even could, make assumptions about what has transpired, when one knows that the assumption therein is, in fact, the truth.

        Phew, I am tired. 😉

    1. I dont see anything wrong with what the dean wrote if that’s the whole story.She shouldn’t have gotten fired over that.

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zr5fhw3XeM

    The Gun Sales of June

    When citizens conclude cops won’t protect them, they buy firearms.

    Patricia and Mark McCloskey are the couple made instantly famous—or infamous—after a video showed them wielding firearms as they fended off protesters who had trespassed on private property outside their St. Louis home.

    The Circuit Attorney for St. Louis, Kimberly Gardner, reacted by issuing a statement saying she planned an investigation, and that her office will not tolerate any effort to chill peaceful protest by the “threat of deadly force.” Never mind that Mr. McCloskey says he and his wife feared they’d be killed. As they told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “the only thing that kept those mobsters, that crowd, away from us is that we were standing there with guns.”

    If soaring gun sales are a guide, millions of Americans are with the McCloskeys. This week the FBI announced a record 3.9 million background checks for June, the highest monthly total since the FBI began keeping the statistic in 1998. Adjusting to reflect checks only for gun purchases, the National Shooting Sports Foundation says this works out to 2.2 million, a 136% increase over June 2019. NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva says about 40% of these checks are for first-time gun buyers.

    This is a warning to the Defund the Police movement about unintended consequences. The more progressives push policies that mean cops won’t be around when people need them, the more they are inviting Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves.

    -WSJ

    This is the event that put “the fear of God” into people who celebrated the rioting. They thought they were going to intimidate the law-abiding people into bowing to their extortion racket. Once the first people waved them off with a gun, they became meek and mild as little lambs. They will not try to terrorize that neighborhood again.

    Always bear in mind that the mob controls only the ground they stand on. They don’t control most of the state and county governments. They don’t control most of the jury pools. They don’t control the private property of the law-abiding people, which is most of us. Don’t be afraid of these people, for they are few, and they are timorous when confronted by law-abiding people bearing arms.

    And remember this Fourth of July to especially celebrate the authors of the Second Amendment. Thomas Jefferson declared that all men are created equal, but John Colt made them so.

  4. Amazing!! A so called school of higher learning, a place to expand minds and give new debate to such strong hard subjects. YET, disagree with the looters, rioters and elite and suddenly your voice no longer matters IM ASHAMED

    1. According to someone who attended with him, they were tested for CV both before and after the rally. So Cain didn’t get CV at the Trump rally. Sorry if that’s disappointing.

  5. We won’t have need for post-secondary education till about 2034 when my grandkids start being ready. Doubt we’ll have colleges then. What say?

    1. Yeah, the sky is falling. Good news it was when I was young too and it hasn’t gotten here yet.

        1. you won’t have to figure it out book. they will.

          you were lucky to be a majority. perhaps you didn’t understand that. probably you do. they will not have the same advantage.

          see i understand the black people on this point; one is lucky to live in a place where one’s own tribe or race is predominant. that is obvious, although white people fight the notion. there indeed has been a very real sort of “white privilege.” it is implicit but it is real. i agree with the leftists on this point! but there is always a privilege in any group that is powerful; so I have no guilt over it, especially as I see it has basically vanished. personally, i like advantages, and try to take my opportunities and do well with them, however they come to me. i feel thankful for what my ancestors bequeathed to me, from the most tangible things to the most vague aspects of culture.

          and white kids obviously have lost that majority advantage. oh, it will affect their outcomes alright. you say it’s all getting better? not for them it isnt.

          it’s ok; because those who remain will be stronger and harder.

          just like how Nietzsche wrote about the Jews in Captivity in Babylon. They went from the driver’s seat to the back of the bus. But their collective spirit was strong; they adjusted, they adapted, they survived, and they thrived. they had the “der Wille zur Macht” — the will to power. He admired them, I can admire that story too.

          fire refines the base ore and brings out the purer metal, and together with other elements, forges a stronger and more flexible alloy. the extreme of fire and cold tempers the steel, and the hammer and stone hone the edge

          you don’t get there by constantly being advantaged and privileged; it comes through struggle

      1. Kurtz may want to consider that most people in America don;t think like him and that’s a good thing.

        A poll the WaPo published last week showed that most voters by far thought the race of Biden’s VP pick was unimportant, and that included 3/4 of blacks.

        1. ha ha, no, MOST PEOPLE DON’T THINK AT ALL. or not very much. I have a bad habit of “thinking too much” as some friends say

          The VP is important. it will be Kamala. I thought she would win the primary when it was clear that she had been annointed by the Hillary faction in California.

          now we can see that faction still has a lot of pull

          https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/07/kamala-harris-2020-california-endorsments-1157651

          at the highest level race is purely cosmetic. at our level down here, it is for real. at kamala’s level, there is no race, there is only green they see

          1. Whatever.

            You sure called that primary right, and neither Booker or Harris won many black votes. I think you’re the only one who GAF about skin color.. Snap out of it.

            1. ha ha obviously i am not the only one who GAF about skin color. have you noticed the organization “black lives matter?”

              Maybe it’s odd of me to be a white guy who is willing to chat so freely about it however. I know it makes people uncomfortable. Especially white people. but see, ya better get used to it. I can shut up but someone else will speak. Im no genius, just react like a lot of others do.

      2. “The enterprise is a difficult one,…” “where there is a will there is a way,”
        ________________________________________________________

        Abraham Lincoln’s proposal:

        “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.”

        Racial separation, Lincoln went on to say, “must be effected by colonization” of the country’s Blacks to a foreign land. “The enterprise is a difficult one,” he acknowledged,

        but “where there is a will there is a way,” and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be.
        _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

        In December 1816, a group of distinguished Americans met in Washington, DC, to establish an organization to promote the cause of Black resettlement. The “American Colonization Society” soon won backing from some of the young nation’s most prominent citizens. Henry Clay, Francis Scott Key, John Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, Millard Fillmore, John Marshall, Roger B. Taney, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, Stephen A. Douglas, and Abraham Lincoln were members. Clay presided at the group’s first meeting.8

        Anti-Slave Trading Act of March 1819, which appropriated $100,000 to transport Blacks to Africa. In enforcing the Act, Mercer suggested to President James Monroe that if Blacks were simply returned to the coast of Africa and released, they would probably be re-enslaved, and possibly some returned to the United States. Accordingly, and in cooperation with the Society, Monroe sent agents to acquire territory on Africa’s West coast — a step that led to the founding of the country now known as Liberia. Its capital city was named Monrovia in honor of the American President.9

        With crucial Society backing, Black settlers began arriving from the United States in 1822. While only free Blacks were at first brought over, after 1827, slaves were freed expressly for the purpose of transporting them to Liberia. In 1847, Black settlers declared Liberia an independent republic, with an American-style flag and constitution.10

        By 1832 the legislatures of more than a dozen states (at that time there were only 24), had given official approval to the Society, including at least three slave-holding states.11 Indiana’s legislature, for example, passed the following joint resolution on January 16, 1850:12

        Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana: That our Senators and Representatives in Congress be, and they are hereby requested, in the name of the State of Indiana, to call for a change of national policy on the subject of the African Slave Trade, and that they require a settlement of the coast of Africa with colored men from the United States, and procure such changes in our relations with England as will permit us to transport colored men from this country to Africa, with whom to effect said settlement.

        In January 1858, Missouri Congressman Francis P. Blair, Jr., introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to set up a committee

        to inquire into the expediency of providing for the acquisition of territory either in the Central or South American states, to be colonized with colored persons from the United States who are now free, or who may hereafter become free, and who may be willing to settle in such territory as a dependency of the United States, with ample guarantees of their personal and political rights.

        Blair, quoting Thomas Jefferson, stated that Blacks could never be accepted as the equals of Whites, and, consequently, urged support for a dual policy of emancipation and deportation, similar to Spain’s expulsion of the Moors.

        – Robert Morgan

      3. The 19th Amendment was a death sentence for America.

        The American fertility rate has been in a “death spiral” for decades.

        Women have failed in their duty to America, which is to make Americans.

        The population is imported of foreign invader hyphenates who have gained rights as Americans have had their rights taken away.

        Too late we discover that abortion was not of America’s children but of America itself – by design.

        Americans deemed the population sufficient in 1960.

        Profiteers disagreed and facilitated population growth through invasion immigration.

        Profiteers’ loyalty is to their profit not their nation.

        Discrimination Bad.

        Extinction Good.

        Whoever sold that to Americans deserves a Noble Prize.

    1. Independent Bobth…….”Was the Spanish Inquisition like this?”

      Well, if a nosey, inquisitive priest has come to your house, obsessed with finding matzah ball soup in your kitchen, and asking personal questions about religion, etc,, then yeah.

    2. This is more like the French Inquisition…or was that the Peruvian Inquisition? I get so confused at times. Not to worry. Pretty soon the whole world will be China and I can guarantee you there will never be a Chinese Inquisition.

  6. Black Lies Matter

    It is axiomatic.

    The lies and parasitism of incapable and dependent blacks have been tolerated and suffered for no rational and coherent reason other than that of incomprehensible, phantom liberal guilt which has somehow gained ascendancy.

    One can only imagine that Americans are too busy conducting free enterprise to pay any attention to the disintegration of their self-governing republic of freedom constituted of severely limited and restricted government.

    The lies of blacks were not material when blacks were slaves and they are similarly not material today. The Constitution applies equally and without variation to all legal and legitimate citizens and includes no various, superior or inferior rights for any individuals or groups of individuals.

      1. Agreed.

        May we end generational welfare, quotas, forced busing, affirmative action privilege, unfair fair housing laws, discriminatory non-discrimination laws, Obamacare, rent control, social services, minimum wage, TANF, WIC, HAMP, HARP, HUD, HHS, etc., etc., etc. now. At the end of the day, it is all unconstitutional.

        And may we be compensated with reparations for the cost of $22 trillion wasted on the War On Poverty since 1965? Poverty won, by the way. I just want my money back.

  7. “You can’t handle the truth.”

    – Colonel Jessup
    ______________

    You can’t grasp the scope and breadth of American freedom. Americans enjoy the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech is unqualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute, long-winded convolutions of insupportable prevarication by the pompous denizens of the legislative branch notwithstanding. Additionally, Americans enjoy the absolute right to private property and absolute immunity from taxation for individual or specific welfare – not to mention that regulation of anything other than that of money, the flow of commerce and land and naval Forces is unconstitutional. Not only are denials, restrictions and limitations of free speech anti-American and unconstitutional, the entire centrally planned, means-of-production controlled (i.e. regulation), wealth redistributed and socially engineered American welfare state is unconstitutional.

    You can’t handle the truth.

    You can’t grasp American freedom.
    ____________________________

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,…

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