University of California, Davis: Retaliation Against Medical School Professor over Newspaper Column
In September 2010, UC Davis School of Medicine professor Michael Wilkes, a recognized expert on prostate cancer screening, published an article in the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the effectiveness of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Wilkes also criticized UC Davis' co-sponsorship of an event he felt excessively promoted the test. The same day the article was printed, Wilkes was notified of UC Davis' decision to reduce Wilkes' teaching responsibilities and to cut funding to an exchange program Wilkes helped coordinate. An attorney for the UC Davis Health System threatened Wilkes with possible legal action, claiming that several claims in the editorial may have constituted actionable defamation. UC Davis' Academic Senate unanimously called on the university to retract all threats of retaliation made against Wilkes in violation of his rights of free speech and academic freedom. In January 2013, however, an administrative review panel appointed by UC Davis largely rejected the Academic Senate's findings that Wilkes' rights had been violated, casting further doubt on its commitment to academic freedom.
- "Review of CAFR Report of Academic Freedom/Professor Wilkes, Findings of Fact," January 11, 2013
- "Response from Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to FIRE, July 17, 2012," July 17, 2012
- "Letter from FIRE to UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, July 13, 2012," July 13, 2012
- "Resolution of UC Davis Academic Senate, June 8, 2012," June 8, 2012
- "Report of UC Davis Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, May 18, 2012," May 18, 2012
- "Letter from David M. Levine, Health System Counsel, to Dr. Michael Wilkes, MD, October 19, 2010," October 19, 2010
- "'No better than a coin toss': PSA tests are risky, San Francisco Chronicle," October 1, 2010
- ""PSA tests can cause more harm than good," San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 2010," September 30, 2010
- "Is UC Davis’ Investigation of Academic Freedom Case Fatally Flawed?," by Peter Bonilla, March 7, 2013
- "UC Davis Update: Panel Rejects Finding of Academic Freedom Violation Against Professor," by Peter Bonilla, January 14, 2013
- "Waiting Time for Justice at UC Davis Med School? Two Years, and Counting," by Peter Bonilla, October 17, 2012
- "Free Speech in Two-Year Deep Freeze At UC Davis Med School," August 29, 2012: FIRE is fighting to defend the academic freedom and free expression rights of University of California, Davis School of Medicine professor Michael Wilkes. Wilkes has been under threat of punishment for nearly two years after he co-authored a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in which he criticized both the effectiveness of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test for cancer screening and UC Davis' sponsorship of an event he felt overly promoted the PSA test. Wilkes was threatened with employment sanctions and told by UC Davis attorneys that he could be liable for "defamation." FIRE and the UC Davis Academic Senate have called on UC Davis to reject these blatant violations of Wilkes' academic freedom. Now, Johns Hopkins University professor Steven Salzberg joins in, writing for Forbes. Stay tuned for more updates from FIRE on this troubling case.
- "In ‘Forbes,’ Professor Takes UC Davis to Task for Academic Freedom Violations," by Peter Bonilla, August 27, 2012
- "At UC Davis Med School, a Two-Year Cloud Over Faculty Expression," by Peter Bonilla, August 24, 2012