Former UNCW professor Mike S. Adams found dead in home


Photo of Mike S. Adams from his professor profile page for the Sociology and Criminology Department, as of 2020.

Caitlyn Dark, News Editor

Nearly a week before his retirement was set to officially begin, former UNC Wilmington professor Mike S. Adams was found dead in his home yesterday.

Adams was discovered after the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office performed a wellness check on July 23 at his home in the Wilmington community of Bayshore. Local news outlets first reported the confirmation of a body found on the premises around 3 p.m. before confirming the body’s identity as Adams several hours later.

His sudden and unexpected death has shocked many in the UNCW community, especially given the close proximity of the start of his retirement and his divisive legacy at the university. 

The former Sociology and Criminology professor had a tumultuous history during his career at UNCW, beginning with his 2007 lawsuit against UNCW. Adams alleged the university had denied him tenure due to his conservative beliefs and writings. The lawsuit dragged on until 2014, when UNCW settled and was ordered to award him tenure, give him a $9,000 pay bump, and pay $615,000 in legal fees.

In 2016, Adam again rose to controversy with his online harassment campaign against then-student Nada Merghani. He had spotted Merghani participating in a pro-choice protest on campus and later tweeted the first of many derogatory statements about Merghani, “The only thing more disgusting than a jihadist Muslim is a pro-choice Muslim,” which prompted one of many petitions to call for him to be fired.

The division of opinion surrounding Adams reached new heights in the past several months when Adams came under fire for his infamous “Massa Cooper” tweet and other social media posts regarding the Black Lives Matter movement protests.

Screenshot of Mike Adams’s racist tweet comparing COVID-19 restrictions to slavery.

Supporters of Adams have long characterized his comments throughout the years as Adams exercising his free speech, though others have argued that it passed into clear instances of hate speech, as they exhibit clear expressions of racism, sexism and homophobia among other biases.

His early retirement was announced last month on June 23 amid growing controversy and pressure from current students, UNCW alumni, prominent Wilmington individuals and celebrity figures calling for his dismissal. The retirement agreement was defended by Chancellor Sartarelli as “fiscally responsible” and “less damaging to UNCW than leaving the situation unresolved,” reasons that left many feeling unsatisfied.

Adams’ retirement was set to begin next week on August 1. An investigation into Adams’ death is currently ongoing and details regarding the circumstances of his death are still unknown at this time.