Linfield University agrees to pay fired professor more than $1M in whistleblower settlement

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Feb. 6, 2023 8:55 p.m.

Daniel Pollack-Pelzner had sued the university nearly two years ago when he was fired after airing allegations of sexual misconduct and antisemitism from Linfield leaders

Nearly two years of litigation between Linfield University and fired professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner has come to an end in the form of a more than $1 million settlement.

Pollack-Pelzner, a tenured professor at the private university in McMinnville, was fired in April 2021 after he publicly shared allegations of sexual misconduct from students and staff involving university board members, including the Linfield president. Pollack-Pelzner, who is Jewish, also shared antisemitic comments he said came from the president and other university leaders.

A partial view of an academic building is framed by leafy oak trees.

Pioneer Hall, the oldest building on the Linfield University campus in McMinnville, can be seen through the trees in this Tuesday, May 21, 2019 file photo. Linfield has agree to pay more than $1 million in a settlement to a former professor the school fired nearly two years ago.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

Linfield said at the time through a statement that Pollack-Pelzner was fired “for serious breaches of the individual’s duty to the institution.”

Pollack-Pelzner and his attorney announced the settlement Monday morning.

“Everyone should be able to work and study without fear of discrimination or harassment, and everyone should be able to report their safety concerns without fear of retaliation,” Pollack-Pelzner said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the many students, alumni, and colleagues who joined me in demanding change and refused to be silenced when Linfield failed to uphold these essential principles.”


Pollack-Pelzner is currently a visiting scholar at Portland State University and scholar-in-residence at the Portland Shakespeare Project.

The settlement was first reported by The Oregonian/Oregonlive.

Along with some members of the Linfield community, Pollack-Pelzner had also gotten public support from groups such as the American Association of University Professors, the Pacific Northwest Anti-Defamation League and the Oregon Board of Rabbis.

Linfield Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications and Chief Marketing Officer Scott Nelson said Monday in a statement that although the university was confident in the outcome of litigation ending in its favor, defending itself against the lawsuit “diverts time and energy from the mission of the institution.”

He continued: “We felt it preferable to resolve this situation and move on.”

Nelson said the university’s insurers recommended the settlement, and he said it’s unlikely to impact the university’s finances moving forward.

“More importantly, this agreement allows Linfield to focus on building and expanding upon its rich educational heritage and creating a welcoming community for all,” Nelson said.

According to the settlement, sent to OPB from Pollack-Pelzner’s attorney, the university has agreed to pay the former professor $1,037,500. Pollack-Pelzner’s lawsuit through Multnomah County Circuit Court and Linfield’s counterclaim will be dismissed with prejudice, meaning they will not be able to file similar litigation again.

Pollack-Pelzner and Linfield have agreed to not sue each other for any reason in the future, according to the settlement agreement.