ANN ARBOR, MI — The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced that it filed a formal complaint with the President of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Commission) challenging the accreditation of the National Defense University (NDU). The Commission, which accredited NDU as a degree granting university, responded that it has begun a “preliminary review” of TMLC’s complaint.
TMLC’s complaint provides overwhelming evidence that several NDU and Department of Defense (DoD) policies relating to academic freedom were violated when Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley was removed from his teaching post as a result of demands by Muslim organizations that all training materials offensive to Islam bepurged and instructorsusing the materialsdisciplined.
TMLC also asked the Commission to conduct its own confidential on-site interviews of NDU faculty members to determine the extent to which academic freedom has been diminished and what measures should be taken to insure the future integrity of NDU as a university.
LTC Dooley was an instructor at the NDU, and one of the faculty members assigned to run the elective course entitled, Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism. Click here to read TMLC’s 7-page complaint.
Richard Thompson, TMLC President and Chief Counsel, observed: “The actions taken against LTC Dooley are astonishing. NDU’s own policies recognize that academic freedom is essential to the integrity of the university classroom setting as well as U.S. national interests. In fact, the Department of Defense had specifically directed the National Defense University to establish a climate of academic freedom within the university, with the directed purpose to foster lively, classroom debate in the examination of national security issues. Contrary to these established policies, NDU and DoD have subsequently gone on to violate their own rules in handling this incident concerning the Islamic Radicalism elective.”
General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, publicly excoriated LTC Dooley and characterized his course on Islamic Radicalism as “offensive to Muslims”, and “against our values.” General Dempsey’s evaluation of LTC Dooley was in stark contrast to the glowing reports from those who witnessed LTC Dooley’s abilities as an instructor first hand, namely, his students and superiors at NDU. Clearly, the inaccurate prejudicial narrative that was permitted to persist against LTC Dooley clashes with the positive narrative, voiced again and again, by the students who were actually in Dooley’s classroom and by his immediate superiors at NDU who witnessed his teaching methods.
In light of LTC Dooley’s public ridicule by General Dempsey, his termination as an instructor and his career-ending Officer Evaluation Report (OER), other NDU faculty members have voiced their own concerns about academic freedom at NDU.
NDU policy defines academic freedom as the “freedom to pursue and express ideas, opinions, and issues germane to the University’s stated mission, free of limitations, restraints, or coercion by the University or external environment. Academic freedom is the hallmark of an academic institution.”