A University of North Carolina Wilmington professor who was set to retire in August after a history of posting controversial social media comments has been found dead in his home, according to reports.
Mike Adams, 55, a tenured criminology professor, was found dead alone in his home when deputies with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office conducted a welfare check about 2 p.m. Thursday, police spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer told CNN.
Police are investigating at his house on Windsong Road, but did not release any other details, according to the News & Observer. Adams’ family and the university have been notified, Brewer said.
“It is with sadness that we share the news that the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation involving Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology. Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts,” the university said in a statement.
Adams had reached a settlement agreement with the university for more than $500,000 and was set to retire on Aug. 1, according to the news outlet.
The professor had “a history of spewing misogynistic, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, racist rhetoric,” said one of several Change.org petitions that called for his ouster.
On May 28, Adams tweeted that universities should be allowed to stay open — while shutting down “non-essential majors. Like Women’s Studies.”
The next day, referring to Gov. Roy Cooper, he tweeted: “This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. I almost felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go!”
Many found his use of the term “Massa,” for slave master, highly offensive, although Adams told local WECT-TV that he was only referring to the governor’s repressive approach during the pandemic.
Adams also tweeted about people protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying that rioters were “thugs looking for an opportunity to break the law with impunity.”
UNC Wilmington Chancellor Jose Sartarelli said the best way to resolve the controversy “quickly, with certainty, and in the most fiscally responsible way” was to negotiate a settlement for $504,702.76, the News & Observer reported.
People and organizations shared their condolences online as news of Adams’ death spread.
“We are devastated to hear of the passing of @MikeSAdams. Professor Adams was a beloved freedom fighter and YAF speaker. Our prayers go out to his family,” Young America’s Foundation, a national conservative campus organization, said on Twitter.
Conservative political blogger Stacey Matthews, who writes under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah, tweeted: “This is awful. Simply awful. Professor Mike Adams was a tireless defender of the First Amendment and conservative values. It was recently reported that he was retiring from UNCW, who gave him grief for years for his viewpoints.”
Meanwhile, UNCW Professor L.J. Randolph wrote: “Please do mourn Mike Adams’s death, but don’t sugarcoat his rhetoric as merely ‘controversial’ or ‘racially charged.’
“He was blatantly racist, homophobic, and sexist, and his own words left no room for interpretation on any of that,” he added.