Professor Watchlist

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Professor Watchlist
Professor Watchlist Logo.jpg
Type of site
Online database
Available inEnglish
OwnerTurning Point USA
Alexa rankNegative increase 146,608 (US, June 2018)[1]
Launched2016; 2 years ago (2016)
Current statusActive

Professor Watchlist is a website run by Turning Point USA that lists U.S. professors deemed to "discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom."[2] It was launched in 2016.[3] As of December 2016, the website included about 200 professors.[4]

The list's claims about the people it includes have been contested as misleading or inaccurate, and its existence has been criticized as a threat to academic freedom.[4][5]


Campus Reform, a part of the Leadership Institute, and Discover the Networks, a website run by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, were the sources for most of the professors on the Professor Watchlist.[6]


Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman described the website as "abjectly terrifying" and said that she feared for the safety of the listed professors.[7] Some have criticized the website as a threat to academic freedom; Hans-Joerg Tiede, the associate secretary for the American Association of University Professors' department of academic freedom, tenure and governance, told The New York Times: "There is a continuing cycle of these sorts of things. They serve the same purpose: to intimidate individuals from speaking plainly in their classrooms or in their publications."[8]

Critics including Peter Dreier of Occidental College—who is listed on the site for having criticized the National Rifle Association and using Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States as a required text—have pointed out errors of fact that may make Professor Watchlist less than reliable as a source of information. Dreier's entry in the website lists him as a former employee of the Industrial Areas Foundation and as the man who inspired college student Barack Obama to become a community organizer. Dreier identifies these claims about him as "complete fantasy". He also noted elements of his biography that the website completely omitted, such as his work with labor unions, his activism in favor of a minimum wage, and the books which he has authored. [9]

Kent State professor Julio Pino told The New York Times the site is "a kind of normalizing of prosecuting professors, shaming professors, defaming professors."[10]

The website's organizers have responded by claiming that it simply provides conservative students with a guide to their professors, akin to,[11] enabling them to avoid left-wing classes.[5]

Over one hundred University of Notre Dame faculty members signed an open letter asking to be included in the site, saying in part:[12]

We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called "dangerous," reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently and fearlessly.

In response to the Notre Dame letter, University of Chicago psychology professor Leslie Kay started the website "Free Academics". This website lists the names of professors across the United States who have signed it to ask for their names to be added to the list. As of December 2016, it had over 1,500 signatories.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alexa Rank
  2. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (2016-11-22). "Being Watched". Inside Higher Education.
  3. ^ Sidahmed, Mazin (December 2, 2016). "A conservative website is targeting professors and accusing them of spreading 'left-wing propaganda'". Business Insider.
  4. ^ a b Sidahmed, Mazin (December 2, 2016). "Professor Watchlist website elicits both fear and ridicule in US universities". The Guardian.
  5. ^ a b Reilly, Katie (2016-12-01). "Professors Targeted by Conservative Watchlist Fire Back: 'It's Obviously an Attempt to Silence People'". Time.
  6. ^ Knott, Katherine (November 23, 2016). "What It's Like to Be Named to a Watch List of 'Anti-American' Professors". Retrieved July 13, 2017 – via The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  7. ^ Schuman, Rebecca (November 23, 2016). "Oh Good, a "Professor Watch List"". Slate.
  8. ^ Mele, Christopher (2016-11-28). "Professor Watchlist Is Seen as Threat to Academic Freedom". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Dreier, Peter (December 9, 2016). "Professor Peter Dreier, targeted by Professor Watchlist, says it gets an F for accuracy". History News Network. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  10. ^ Lester, Kerry (30 November 2016). "Wheeling High graduate behind conservative 'Professor Watchlist". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  11. ^ Wenzke, Marissa (December 2, 2016). "This controversial website is targeting 'radical' left-wing academics". Mashable.
  12. ^ "A letter to Professor Watchlist". The Observer. December 8, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  13. ^ Strauss, Valerie (December 14, 2016). "'The sort of company we wish to keep': More than 1,500 academics ask to join controversial 'Professor Watchlist'". The Washington Post.

External links[edit]