Ferris State professor fired after allegedly tweeting racist slurs; he claims free speech

Thomas Brennan, a Ferris State University professor who was placed on leave after allegedly tweeting racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs, has been terminated by the university.

“I’ve been officially fired from Ferris,” Brennan said in a tweet Saturday that also linked to a defense statement that he said he gave to the university administration Feb. 15.

University officials confirmed the firing Saturday saying: “Ferris State University Assistant Professor of Physical Sciences Thomas Brennan’s employment at the university has been terminated, effective Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The university has no further comment.”

Brennan came under fire in November for posts on his Twitter account involving conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and for allegedly using racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic language.

The university library at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

In his defense letter, Brennan wrote that he “was acting out and speaking out of despair caused by a personal crisis involving extremely painful migraines, emf (electromagnetic field) sensitivity and a series of repeated break-ins into my home.”

He said many of the things he tweeted were “horrible” but he was exercising his free speech rights.

“Therefore the things I said on twitter were not expressed in order to discriminate against people of different races or social categories but were uttered as a result of my disability,” he said.

The university placed Brennan on administrative leave in November and began an investigation.

At the time, David L. Eisler, Ferris State University president, said “individually and collectively we were shocked and outraged by these tweets. They are extremely offensive and run counter to the values of our University and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our students, faculty, staff and members of the community are upset and offended by these comments, and they should be.”

Eisler noted that Brennan had also disrupted a College of Arts, Sciences and Education Zoom meeting in August when he expressed that U.S. COVID-19 death rates “were exaggerated, and the pandemic and rioting were leftist stunts.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN