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Monday, November 29, 2021

UT Knoxville Offers to Reinstate Acquitted Professor

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offered to reinstate a former tenured professor who was acquitted of fraud-related charges, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Faculty members had called for the reinstatement of the professor, Anming Hu, who was terminated from the university after being charged with fraud-related crimes under the auspices of the Department of Justice’s controversial China Initiative for allegedly concealing his affiliation with a Chinese university from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which funded Hu’s research.

A jury trial ended in a mistrial, and a judge subsequently acquitted Hu of all charges, ruling that no rational jury could conclude Hu planned a scheme to defraud NASA.

Hu, a Canadian citizen, was placed on suspension without pay following confirmation of his indictment in March 2020, according to correspondence between UT Knoxville’s provost and the Faculty Senate president. Hu remained on suspension through October 2020, when the university received notice that he was unable to renew his U.S. work authorization and terminated him.

The Knoxville News Sentinel obtained an Oct. 14 letter sent by UT Knoxville provost John Zomchick detailing the terms of the offer of reinstatement, which includes a tenured faculty position and back pay for the time Hu was suspended without pay — but not for the time between his termination and his reinstatement. The university also offered $200,000 over three years to help Hu re-establish his research program and pay for an immigration attorney.

The News Sentinel, which obtained the letter Friday evening, reported that university officials and Hu’s attorney were unavailable to comment on the offer.

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