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Thank you, John Sterling

The Biggest Richard in Higher Education

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Dear (Elmhurst College) President Braskamp:

I am sorry to have to write to you at such a busy time of year. However, it has become necessary to contact you in light of a series of disturbing and unwanted communications I have received from a member of your faculty. These unwanted communications, which are being sent to my work email address, are coming from the work email address of Professor Richard Greenleaf.


These communications are particularly troubling given Richard Greenleaf’s past employment as a law enforcement officer and his present employment as a criminal justice professor. Below is Greenleaf’s latest email in italics. Take the time to read it before I explain the context of his communication.

Subject: Another Mike Adams inspired nut case

Did you correspond with him Mike? Maybe inspire him a bit to complete his mission of murdering a university officer and 2 civilians? The 1.8 GPA was well deserved genius.

(Suspect mug shot removed)

Richard G Greenleaf, Ph.D., Professor

Director of Criminal Justice

Elmhurst College

(Contact information removed)

This latest unsolicited communication from Professor Greenleaf came just hours after a man allegedly shot and killed several people in the vicinity of a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At first glance, it may seem that Professor Greenleaf decided to send me this email because I live near Colorado Springs in the summer and in North Carolina (where the suspect usually resides) during the fall, spring, and winter. A little additional context shows that this explanation for Greenleaf’s motivation is inadequate.

Please note the use of the terms “another” and “inspired” in the subject line. He uses the term “another” because it is the fourth time he has written to me with a specific inquiry in the wake of a tragic mass shooting. None of these other mass shootings occurred in or were connected to either North Carolina or Colorado. Please also note that Greenleaf uses the term “inspired.” In each of those four cases he suggests that I am somehow involved in murders committed by people I have never met.


This most recent unwelcomed communication is particularly troubling because he specifically suggests that I had personal communication with the alleged mass killer. In other words, based on no evidence whatsoever, he seems to think I am actually soliciting people to commit acts of murder. As a reminder, he teaches criminal justice at your college. In fact, he is the director of your criminal justice program.

This kind of professional misconduct is so extreme that it actually moves beyond parody. It is reminiscent of the University of Missouri professor who solicited acts of physical intimidation against reporters and then was revealed to be a professor of mass media. Were Greenleaf anything but a criminal justice professor we could retain some degree of confidence in his professional competence. But objective facts will not allow it.

To make matters worse, these unwanted communications have now been coming from this professor for a period of twenty months. His first communication to me came in early March of 2014. I believe it would be worthwhile to review the circumstances of his initial communication to my workplace email address.

That initial unsolicited email came with an explanation. Specifically, Greenleaf claimed that he was surfing the Internet for course syllabi and simply stumbled upon mine. And he did not like it because he thought my policies on class cell phone use and other disruptions were too harsh. So he wrote to criticize me for a lack of humility. In the process, he boasted about his own humility.


Take a moment to let that sink in: Professor Greenleaf is so full of humility that he writes other professors emails with unsolicited advice on how to teach their classes and then justifies it by telling them he is more humble than they are. Apparently, the professor suffers from such severe intellectual hernia that he cannot comprehend the self-defeating nature of the claim “I’m more humble than you.” It’s on a par with “my brother is an only child” and “I cannot speak a word of English.” It is a claim that self-destructs upon its very utterance.

After I ridiculed Greenleaf in my Town Hall column “Who is Richard Greenleaf?” I suspected he would go away. Unfortunately, he has not. He has compounded his public display of professional incompetence by writing and accusing me of involvement in murder plots. Accordingly, I am now writing you with a few questions concerning Professor Greenleaf:

1. How many times does Professor Greenleaf have to send unsolicited emails to my workplace before he is guilty of sexual harassment? I simply don’t like him as much as he seems to like me.

2. Given that it is highly implausible that Greenleaf stumbled upon me accidentally – as opposed to being aware of my political views – does this harassment constitute a hate crime? Hint: You may want to re-read my column “Who Is Richard Greenleaf?”

3. Do you think Richard Greenleaf is a bully?


4. Are false accusations of murder solicitation free speech or slander?

5. Finally, have you considered getting a new director for your criminal justice program? Perhaps one selected for his professional competence instead his willingness to advance the social agenda of the United Church of Christ?

In case you fire him, I thought I would give Richard Greenleaf a little mass media experience first. I understand they’re hiring at the University of Missouri.

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