Wilmington attorney Woody White, who resigned Sept. 22 from the UNCW Board of Trustees, shared the reasons for his resignation on Facebook, criticizing Chancellor Jose Sartarelli and the school’s treatment of those who express conservative opinions.
“Like too many other American Universities, it [UNCW] punishes conservative voices, by looking the other way, by perpetrating the double standard. By knowing that thousands of students engage in self-censorship, but doing nothing about it,” he wrote.
University of North Carolina Wilmington officials had no comment about the opinions White expressed in the Facebook post, stating in an email Friday, “The university received a copy of Mr. White’s resignation letter. We thank him very much for his service while on the board and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
UNCW on Friday afternoon announced that Sartarelli plans to retire in June
. Sources said that he has been planning to retire and that the decision and timing were unrelated to White's resignation.
White had two years left in his term.
Hank Miller, vice chair of the board, said, “I am surprised Woody resigned, and I’m going to miss his leadership and his insight on the board.”
White, who is also a former chairman and member of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, went on to say in his post, “UNCW places high value on diversity, equity and inclusion; programs, stats, and presentations on DEI are in every meeting, touting the metrics of race and gender, but not a peep about how important it is to nurture diversity of thought on college campuses.”
White shared what he sees as examples, alluding to professor Mike Adams, who committed suicide in July last year. Leading up to his death, Adams had made racist and sexist comments on social media, the kind of controversial comments he had made publicly numerous times over the years. Some of his last comments led to his retirement and a $500,000 settlement with UNCW.
Sartarelli said at the time that the settlement was the better solution because Adams indicated he was interested in retiring and because attempting to fire Adams could have resulted in “drawn out, very costly litigation, that we might not win, which was the case when Dr. Adams sued UNCW and won a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit in 2014. That legal process lasted 7 years and cost the university roughly $700,000, $615,000 of which was for Dr. Adams’ attorneys’ fees. Losing a similar lawsuit today could cost even more.”
In his Facebook post Thursday evening
, White said, “When a conservative professor fights for equality in his 1st Amendment rights and wins $700,000, he remains an outcast by an unrepentant Administration and bullied to a point where he kills himself.
“But When a liberal professor advocates violence against conservative students, nobody says anything. Nothing happens.”
The “liberal professor” White was referring to is Dan Johnson, an associate professor in UNCW's School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, who apologized in June after posting “Blow up Republicans” on his personal Facebook page.
In addition to referencing the professors, White addressed Sartarelli by name in Thursday’s post.
“Despite his successes in enrollment growth and student housing, his neglect of the real issues that matter in the long run is Sartarelli’s true legacy,” White said. “I hope he moves on as soon as possible.”
Asked Friday why he decided to share his view in a public post on Facebook, White said, “Why does anyone decide to comment publicly? To convey a message, to inform the public on a point of view about which they might not know very much. And in hoping that the people in positions that matter can take action and change things.”