Legally blind Catholic prof forced to resign as dean in wake of conservative witch-hunt
NORMAN, Oklahoma, October 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An apparent smear campaign against one of Oklahoma Law School’s most respected professors has succeeded in ousting him as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, a position he held for five years.
Brian McCall J.D. relinquished his post on Tuesday, amid mounting pressure from university officials after the student newspaper ran two vicious hit pieces earlier this month accusing him of sexist, homophobic, and possibly anti-Semitic beliefs.
"I am told that the outside investigators found my work record to be impeccable and found no wrongdoing on my part. The most I am told that I have been accused of is that my beliefs might hypothetically cause me to act improperly toward some people," McCall told LifeSiteNews.
The forced resignation comes despite an independent investigation by the school’s Equal Opportunity Office finding that not once in his 13 years of employment did McCall, a traditionalist Catholic, engage in workplace harassment or discrimination.
At issue is McCall’s 2014 book To Build the City of God: Living as Catholics in a Secular Age and his role as editor-in-chief of Catholic Family News, a periodical critical of Vatican II popular among certain Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass.
The book argues that women should ideally wear skirts so as to promote modesty and not entice men’s concupiscence. It also supports the idea that husbands are the head of the household while a wife’s duty is to "properly order the interior life of the home.”
McCall, who is tenured and will retain his teaching job, also expresses in his book disagreement with same-sex “marriage.”
Even though McCall has never been accused of imposing his private views on any of his students, Oklahoma Daily journalist Drew Hutchinson wrote two lengthy articles about them, seemingly for no other reason than to get McCall into trouble.
One article was published September 9 under the headline, “Endowed OU law professor found connected to anti-Semitic publication.” The other was released September 30 with the title, “OU law professor, associate dean expresses homophobic, sexist views in 2014 book.”
In her reporting, Hutchinson relies almost exclusively on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for her claims, quoting one of their spokespersons and mentioning more than a half dozen times that the SPLC considers the Catholic organizations McCall is affiliated with — The Remnant Newspaper, The Fatima Center, and Catholic Family News — to be “hate groups.”
In 2013, an armed pro-homosexual activist entered the headquarters of the conservative Family Research Council in Washington D.C. intending to gundown their employees. Fortunately, a security guard prevented him from carrying out the massacre. The man was arrested and told police he was motivated by the SPLC’s decision to label them a “hate group.” Similarly, the gunman who shot and severely wounded Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) for his pro-life views in June 2017 was also a supporter of the SPLC.
Hutchinson also sought comment from Cary Nelson, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois and president of the American Association of University Professors from 2006 until 2012.
Nelson said although academic freedom protected McCall in his role as a professor, laws related to his deanship are different. If McCall was at the University of Illinois, he’d “be gone in a day," he said.
Hutchinson claims she wrote the pair of articles for altruistic reasons, stating on her previously public, now "protected" twitter account that “students should know: 1) the views of administrators at our school 2) more about academic freedom policy.”
But the facts may tell a different story. To date, Hutchinson, who has been writing for the paper since May 2018, is yet to run a similar profile of any other administrator’s personal views. Her most recent story, published October 4, was about an event coordinated by the university’s Gender + Equality Center.
The silent treatment
Soon after McCall stepped down, Law School Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. issued a statement disavowing his 2014 book and affirming the school’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and multiculturalism.
LifeSite emailed Dean Harroz asking how Professor McCall’s beliefs fail to contribute to providing a diverse educational experience that encourages thoughtful debate and conversation among students.
LifeSite did not receive a response.
LifeSite also asked Harroz what sort of message McCall’s resignation sends to Catholics considering Oklahoma for their college choice and if he, Harroz, had anything to say to persons who view the move as just another instance of liberal intolerance on college campuses.
Neither question received comment.
Humble yet brilliant
Several of Professor McCall’s former and current students have come forward vouching for his professionalism and integrity.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, Breanna Kay, who took courses in Oklahoma’s paralegal program, said McCall was “never anything but kind, fair, and extraordinarily helpful to me as a student.”
“Do I agree with the sociological, theological, or political views of Dr. McCall? Certainly not.” What I can say is that the program was “made up, almost entirely, of women with families who have no other aim but to enter the workforce as a paralegal, outside of the home. Every one of us wore pants.”
“I was never looked down upon because I was a woman,” she added. “He did everything in his power to prepare me to be a career woman ‘outside of the home.’”
Jennie Mook, a first-year law student, told LifeSite “every student that I have spoken with that has taken a class with Professor McCall have nothing but positive things to say. He is regarded as very intelligent, well respected, and very professional.”
“The concerns that I have heard expressed have been from students that have not interacted with McCall or had him as a professor.”
“I'm not sure how Professor McCall is able to compartmentalize his strong personal beliefs with his professional conduct, but he does. And he does so extremely well.”
I was surprised, she added, “that he had such strong beliefs because he never conveyed them.” He “eagerly provide tips and suggestions” for my career.
Not failing to notice the hypocritical nature of the dismissal, Mook said, “OU Law prides ourselves on diversity...however, religious inclusivity is part of diversity and as long as McCall isn't discriminating against students, his personal beliefs are his own.”
“There is not a conflict between a commitment to diversity and having him as faculty.”
Third-year law student Alexander Hilton also went on record about Professor McCall.
In an email to LifeSite, Hilton described McCall as “an inspiration” who is “humble yet brilliant.”
“His students invariably laud his professionalism and gentlemanly demeanor.”
Suggestions that he hates Jews, women, or homosexuals are “pure fiction,” Hilton said. The “detractive disinformation about Professor McCall betrays prejudice against Roman Catholics, and his honor should be restored.”
Tragically, “the un-solidarity of the OU Law faculty in handling this matter has corroborated the egregious mischaracterizations.”
A petition of “no confidence” in Dean Harroz was launched Thursday on Change.org. It states that McCall’s forced resignation is an injustice, sets an example for “mob rule,” and that it was done for “nothing other than an unpopular though sincerely held religious belief.”
An impeccable record
Over the course of his academic career, Professor McCall, who was born legally blind, has published dozens of peer-reviewed articles. He is also the author of several books that focus on Catholic political thought and natural law jurisprudence. Some of his writings can be found on the Oklahoma Law School’s website while his public speeches on Our Lady of Fatima, marriage, economics, and usury can be viewed on YouTube.
In 2014, McCall was a visiting professor of Law at Notre Dame, where he taught Business Associations and a seminar on Law, Business, Society, and Catholicism.
Prior to being hired at Oklahoma in 2006, McCall spent 9 years in private practice representing a variety of clients in corporate finance and international mergers. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale, master’s from Kings College in London, and law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Erin Yarbrough, the school’s interim Vice President for Public Affairs, defended McCall earlier this year, stating on July 20th that “Associate Dean McCall has an impeccable record as an administrator and is consistently ranked as one of the top professors in the College of Law.”
Yarbrough did not respond to a LifeSite email asking if she still stands by those remarks.
In a public statement released exclusively to LifeSite, Professor McCall said he was “saddened” by the entire affair and that the “public pressure” placed upon him put him in “a position where I had no other choice but to relinquish my administrative responsibility.”
Professor McCall's full statement to LifeSiteNews:
I have worked at the University for 13 years and served as academic dean for five. I have never been accused of treating anyone (faculty, staff, or student) unfairly or unjustly in any way.
I am told that the outside investigators found my work record to be impeccable and found no wrongdoing on my part.
Yet, public pressure put me in a position where I had no other choice but to relinquish my administrative responsibility.
I am saddened that I have had to give up the opportunity to work for our students simply because of my sincerely held Catholic beliefs.
The most I am told that I have been accused of is that my beliefs might hypothetically cause me to act improperly toward some people.
I have written extensively over my career about the virtue of justice. I believe it an injustice and a sin to treat someone not on the merits of what they do but simply because they do not agree with me. I say this not merely as an abstract belief. I have personally suffered unjust discrimination on the basis of being legally blind many times in my own life.
As a child I was told I could not even apply to a particular school because they did not want a blind student in their school. I would never want any person to be treated that way.
I am deeply saddened by this whole affair and regret the disturbances caused to our students. On the positive side in the future I will have more time to devote to teaching and research in the future.