Stand Against Anti-Israel Bias and Suppression of Free Speech at the University of Maryland

  • by: Melissa Landa
  • recipient: University System of Maryland Board of Regents; President Wallace Loh; Dean Jennifer Rice

Professor Melissa Landa was dismissed from her teaching position at the University of Maryland (UMD) due to her vocal pro-Israel views and fighting BDS.

Detailed information is available at the Supporters of Melissa Landa website.

Please sign this petition to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, UMD President Wallace Loh, and Dean Jennifer Rice. The University of Maryland needs to be held accountable for the injustice it has inflicted. 

Background

For ten years, Dr. Melissa Landa was an Assistant Clinical Professor in the College of Education. She won awards for her teaching and research and created some of the most popular courses in the College. Students described her as "one of the best professors at this institution," and colleagues praised her as an "honest, fair, and collaborative professional."

In Spring 2016, Melissa appeared in the national press for her leadership in confronting anti-Semitism and BDS at Oberlin College, her alma mater. She joined the Academic Engagement Network, a faculty organization that opposes BDS; she became an affiliate professor at Haifa University; and she planned to begin a research partnership with a college in Tel Aviv. Weeks later, Melissa began to face discriminatory treatment and a hostile work environment from the Chair and Associate Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership – Francine Hultgren and John O'Flahavan. They:

Criticized Melissa for her efforts to confront anti-Semitism;
Withdrew from a conference presentation with Melissa, who was discussing her research in Israel;
Reprimanded Melissa on the first night of Passover when she was observing the holiday in Israel;
Threatened to fire her for being "out of bounds of acceptability with regard to campus policy" for missing classes during Passover;
Reassigned Melissa from a literacy course she had helped to create and taught for over ten years, preventing her from pursuing a partnership with her Israeli colleagues.
Removed Melissa from the Elementary Education Program, stripping her of her central role in the College of Education.

Melissa filed a Faculty Grievance against Dr. Hultgren and Dr. O'Flahavan, and on June 5, the Grievance Board reported

"In the interest of the program, the Hearing Board hopes that a professional path for Dr. Landa can be found that harmonizes her teaching and scholarly interests with the needs of the Department…"

Three days later, Francine Hultgren emailed Melissa in Israel and informed her that her contract was not being renewed. Melissa was the only Clinical Professor to be terminated.

We are deeply disturbed by Dr. O'Flahavan's and Dr. Hultgren's discriminatory and retaliatory conduct, and by Dean Jennifer Rice's defense of their actions. They have destroyed Melissa Landa's academic career and disgraced the University of Maryland.

After you sign this petition, please consider calling or writing to: 

President Wallace Loh:president@umd.edu; 301.405.5803

Dean Jennifer Rice: jkr@umd.edu; 301.405.2336

Office of the Board of Regents University System of Maryland

3300 Metzerott Road Adelphi, MD 20783

Phone: 301.445.2701 Fax: 301.445.1931

Update #58 months ago
Hello to All!

We now have a public community Facebook page called "Supporters of Melissa Landa's Fight for Justice." The page is designed to:

1) Help spread the word about our efforts;
2) Share info as things develop;
3) Inform UMD know that we are active and growing!

If you are on Facebook, I hope you will give it a "Like" and leave a comment! Go to: https://www.facebook.com/supportersofmelissalanda/?pnref=story

Thank you so very much for your continued support!

Melissa

Update #48 months ago
Hi Everyone,

To keep up the pressure on UMD, please click on the link below for email addresses of UMD administrators as well as sample letters to send them:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NdCzBi9e0mbAuyxntxR_vGLTgQ4ZYwm3jlfRuRON6_I/edit?usp=sharing

Thank you for your commitment to this important struggle.
Update #38 months ago
Please take a minute and email UMD administrators:
jkr@umd.edu
president@umd.edu
Ideas:

Dr. Landa is receiving support from students, colleagues, and concerned individuals across the US and the world. If you don't remedy this obvious act of bias and rehire Dr. Landa, UMD's reputation will suffer. We will not be silent.

Your Grievance Board recommended that Dr. Landa be reinstated. Three days later, Dr. Hultgren fired her. This is blatant discrimination. Where is your accountability, UMD?
Update #28 months ago
Last night, the petition was signed by people in INDIA, IRAQ, and ISRAEL.
We have 305 names on the petition, which is great! If you would like to help keep up the pressure, please consider emailing and calling:

1) UMD President Wallace Loh: president@umd.edu; 301.405.5803
2) College of Education Dean Jennifer Rice: jkr@umd.edu; 301.405.2336
3) Office of the Board of Regents University System of Maryland (no email)
3300 Metzerott Road Adelphi, MD 20783
Phone: 301.445.2701 Fax: 301.445.1931
Update #18 months ago
My sincere thanks for signing this petition. By sending a strong message to the University of Maryland to inform them that we will not accept discrimination, retaliation, and the suppression of free speech; we can help to protect other academics who support Israel from mistreatment and wrongful termination. Thus far, people from 11 countries and 30 states in the U.S. have signed! Here's to continuing to spread the word and to fighting the good fight!
Warm regards to each of you! Melissa

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