Professor Mike Adams, an outspoken activist for conservative causes including free speech protections and opposition to abortion, was found dead at his North Carolina home on Thursday.
The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office conducted a wellness check after concerned family members didn’t hear from the longtime University of North Carolina-Wilmington sociologist.
Authorities haven’t released any details regarding Adams’ cause of death, but his passing notably occurred just one week before his forced retirement—and a $500,000 settlement from the UNCW for violating his First Amendment rights.
Adams was an open conservative who relied on his tenured professorship to speak about taboo social and criminal justice issues.
He also refused to bow to politically correct mobs and campus speech-policing efforts.
That made him a target, and at times Adams seemed to enjoy testing intolerant campus liberals.
In one Twitter post, Adams blasted Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper for his draconian executive orders that shut down businesses and social gatherings while making allowances for violent statue-toppling mobs and Black Lives Matter protests.
“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!” he tweeted on May 29.
The message prompted petitions and demonstrations calling for his immediate firing.
Adams, who was also a columnist for the conservative websites The Daily Wire and Town Hall, was once again branded a “racist,” “misogynist” and “homophobe.”
The criticism grew to an untenable level that UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli succeeded in pushing Adams out of his professorship, but not before agreeing to a roughly $700,000 total settlement.
Adams had many supporters who respected his courage to pushback against left-wing abuses on campus. Many viewed him as a champion of free speech and free thought, even if they didn’t agree with his politics.
Despite a vocal minority of progressive student- and faculty-activists, Adams’ classes were popular with most of his students.
He earned mostly positive student evaluations and received multiple teaching awards, according to his UNCW curriculum vitae.
The Office of University Relations at UNCW released a statement about his death on Thursday night.
“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.”