Thomas Brennan has been officially fired from Ferris, according to a Saturday morning tweet from the former physics professor.
“I’ve been officially fired from Ferris. Here’s the defense statement that I gave to the administration on February 15, 2021, along with supporting documents,” his tweet reads. Brennan linked two PDF documents, one a 15-page long defense with evidence, and one a six-page statement. His website, which is linked to his Twitter profile states he was fired on Feb. 25, 2021.
Ferris news services and social media manager Sandy Gholston confirmed that Brennan’s employment was terminated on Thursday, Feb. 25 in an official statement and said, “The university has no further comment.” Brennan had been on administrative leave since Nov. 19, 2020, when Gholston released Ferris’ only other official statement on the matter.
Brennan’s termination of employment comes just over three months after The Torch reported Brennan’s ties to a Twitter account under his name that posted tweets calling COVID-19 a hoax, amongst other conspiracy theories and both racist and antisemitic language. Brennan also used the account to tweet his lecture video.
Since The Torch’s original reporting on Brennan’s Twitter, he wrote a letter to the Ferris community, claiming the Twitter as his own.
According to Brennan, he acted and spoke out of “despair caused by personal crisis involving extremely painful migraines, emf sensitivity and a series of repeated break-ins into [his] home.” He goes on to explain “emf sensitivity” as being able to “feel” WiFi and cellphones.
In a termination letter from Provost Robert Fleischman obtained by MLive, Brennan’s employment was terminated for serious misconduct. The misconduct cited in the letter included a “pattern of unprofessional and harassing behavior”, Brennan’s “views against science” and “numerous comments on social media pages which created a hostile environment, both working and classroom,” Fleischman wrote.
In the statement, Brennan said he believes himself to be a “targeted individual” and is working against the stereotypes of “mad scientist” and “nutty professor.” His statement can be read in full here.
Brennan’s statement details the initial incident at Ferris that led to requests by human resources for a fitness for duty evaluation in 2019. The university became aware of his migraine pain and alleged emf sensitivity on Nov. 8, 2019, when Brennan called the Mecosta County Sheriff to report alleged break-ins to his home. Brennan was on campus at the time of the call, so a Ferris DPS officer was dispatched to his office in the Arts & Science Commons.
The Ferris DPS report, which was included in Brennan’s statement, stated that at 10:24 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2019, the officer spoke with Brennan about harassment he said he was receiving. “Brennan advised that strange things had been going on for fifteen years,” the report read. The report details Brennan’s account of his experience with sensitivity to electronics and migraines and can be read in full here.
The report stated that Brennan believed he was being “gang stalked,” which he explained as “a lot of strangers will approach him and say things to him out of the blue.” He told the officer he believed it was being done to make him “appear insane.” The report details the break-ins Brennan believed were happening at his home and his belief that there was possibly a microchip in his brain. Brennan provided the officer with MRI scans of his brain and “insisted [he] take the photocopies as evidence in case anything happens to him,” the report said. According to Brennan’s statement, the alleged home invasions became frequent enough for him to install security cameras and change his locks.
“In the end the thing that finally stopped the break-ins, in mid-May 2020, was when I fully nailed all of my windows shut,” Brennan said in his statement. “A fresh breeze was a luxury I couldn’t afford.”
Following the Ferris DPS report, the fitness for duty evaluation of Brennan was requested by human resources in order for him to continue teaching in the Spring 2020 semester. A letter was also sent to Brennan and his physician, who sent a letter in return on Dec. 30, 2019 that said “I do not find any clear or convincing evidence of delusion or other mental or physical health condition that would interfere with the performance of your job or cause a threat to yourself or anyone else.”
Ferris Faculty Association president Charles Bacon sent an email to human resources after the incident in 2019, saying he was “saddened by this continued harassment of Professor Brennan.” Bacon clarified to the Torch in an email Saturday that the email mentioned in Brennan’s statement had “nothing to do with his current situation,” but offered no other comments.
In the fall of 2019, Brennan said he turned to Twitter as “a result of my frustration at not being able to stop what was happening to me and since I couldn’t express myself at work, I started to fall into despair.” He stated he “decided to become verbally violent and harmful, but only on Twitter.”
“But out of spite for myself and what my world had turned into, I decided to say all the things that are some of [the] worst things you could say. My attitude was ‘f* it, f* everybody and everything.’ That’s what chronic head trauma will do to you,” Brennan said in his statement.
The Torch originally reached out to Brennan on Sept. 26, 2020, which he confirms in his statement. He stated that he rejected requests for interviews multiple times, however, after Brennan initially canceled his interview, The Torch received no responses from Brennan – via email or otherwise, despite a phone number being offered — after Sept. 26, 2020.
The Torch reached out again on Sept. 28, Oct. 7 and Oct. 23 – nearly a full month before the story was published, contrary to Brennan’s statement that it was received two days before the story ran — as our investigation went further. Brennan was given both a phone number and email to communicate with The Torch, and he did not respond to any further requests, even to decline.
Brennan ended his statement by calling his migraines “evidence of a disability.”
“Therefore the things I said on Twitter were not expressed in order to discriminate against people of different races or social categories but were uttered as a result of my disability,” Brennan wrote.
Brennan said he was exercising his rights to free speech on his Twitter. In President David Eisler’s only statement on the matter, he said he and the university were “shocked” and “outraged” by the tweets.
“We strongly reject these statements, condemn them and will not tolerate them,” Eisler wrote. “We have worked diligently to become a more diverse university, and these statements demonstrate vividly how one person can set back the work of many.”
This story was last updated on Tuesday, March 2.