professor watch list
ASU Faculty Asked To Be Added To Anti-Conservative Watchlist, Then Cried Foul

August 2, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) faculty behind a campaign against the now-dissolved T.W. Lewis Center asked to be added to a watchlist of professors who discriminate against conservative students, emails reveal. Those faculty members later cried foul for their inclusion on the watchlist. 

In emails shared with Arizona Sun Times, a Barrett Honors College faculty member requested his addition to the professor watchlist, a product of the Phoenix-based conservative advocacy organization Turning Point USA (TPUSA). That faculty member, professor Mike Stanford, emailed former T.W. Lewis Center executive director Ann Atkinson to request that she forward his request to TPUSA.

“I thought, ‘Why should my colleagues get all the glory? What am I, chopped liver?’ I even filed a ‘tip’ about myself on the website. Yet to no date, no joy,” stated Stanford. “I respectfully request that you direct your minions to add me to the Watchlist. It seems only fair.” 

ASU closed the Lewis Center following the principal funder’s decision to withdraw his backing over the “left-wing hostility and activism” of a majority of Barrett Honors College faculty. The faculty launched a campaign with a letter to oppose the invitation of the three conservative speakers at the event: Charlie Kirk, founder and president of TPUSA; Dennis Prager, radio talk show host and founder of conservative educational group PragerU; and Robert Kiyosaki, author and PragerU presenter. 

Since then, several of those involved in the controversial event have come forward alleging retaliation for their involvement. The Arizona legislature ordered an investigation into the ordeal, specifically to review whether free speech violations had occurred.

Stanford received further endorsement for inclusion on the anti-conservative watchlist from another signatory, professor Michael Ostling. Ostling’s role in the campaign against the Lewis Center event resulted in his inclusion on the professor watchlist. Ostling called the watchlist an “honor” for him and his colleagues.

“It is thus only fair that he should be honored, along with his colleagues, as a Professor in need of Watching,” wrote Ostling. 

Yet, Ostling and fellow Barrett signatories Jenny Brian and Alex Young alleged months later in an Arizona Republic opinion piece that their inclusion on the watchlist resulted in threats of violence. The three professors also argued that those who reject inclusivity were a threat to debate and, therefore, should be barred from public discourse. 

Democratic Sen. Christine Marsh (LD04) further claimed that it was faculty members’ fear over the Professor Watchlist that caused them to decline to testify at last month’s state legislature’s joint committee hearing on allegations of free speech violations at ASU.

ASU has 42 faculty members listed on the Professor Watchlist. Among those 42 are the 39 of 47 Barrett faculty members who signed onto the letter opposing the Lewis Center event: Abby Loebenberg, Abby Wheatley, Adam Rigoni, Alex Young, April Miller, Benjamin Fong, Christiane Fontinha de Alcantara, Dagmar Van Engen, David Agruss, Don Fette, Elizabeth Meloy, Gabriella Soto, Georgette Briggs, Irina Levin, Jacquie Scott, Jennifer Brian, John Lynch, Joseph Foy, Joseph O’Neil, Laura Jakubczak, Laurie Stoff, Lisa Barca, Mathew Sandoval, Matthew Voorhees, Michael Ostling, Mina Suk, Nilanjana Bhattacharjya, Peter Schmidt, Phillip Cortes, Rachel Fedlock, Rebecca Soares, Robert Mack, Sarah Graff, and Taylor Hines.

The University of Arizona has nine faculty members included on TPUSA’s watchlist, and Northern Arizona University has two. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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