News outlets are reporting today that Adrienne Anderson died on Sept. 7 at the age of 59. Anderson was fired by the University of Colorado in 2005 after 12 years as an instructor in the environmental and ethnic studies departments, an important but overlooked academic freedom case. In 1999, Anderson noted how the University cancelled her class in response to industry pressure: “Then the students marched on the administration to demand its reinstatement, and the moneys [for the class] were found. … The fact that I’m still here is a testament to the students and their demands to the administration.”
But as corporate forces grew more influential at the University of Colorado, an outspoken adjunct such as Anderson found her job in jeopardy. The right-wing Rocky Mountain News celebrated her 2005 dismissal in an editorial that revealed much about the violation of academic freedom in this case, calling Anderson “an instructor whose rhetoric on environmental issues has been almost as reckless as the ranting of Ward Churchill.” English professor Paul Leavitt wrote about some of the important issues in Anderson’s case.
The Colorado AAUP made an extensive report on Anderson’s case, noting the “documents obtained by CU students using the Colorado Open Records Act, finding voluminous evidence of polluters and Owens political appointees exerting their political muscle through implied threats of loss of funding should CU officials not cater to their desires to curb Ms. Anderson’s rights on the CU faculty.”