Avowed Racist John Swallow Named Assoc Dean for Student Success at the University of Colorado Despite Leading a Department That Failed 50% More Black Students Than White Students

John Swallow is also a liar

Greg Cronin

2/16/20248 min read

This story was written after Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump lost expensive court cases for defamation. This article is meant to be informative and expose racism that continues to maintain race-based injustice in higher education, especially at the University of Colorado. Claims made in this story are factually accurate, not defamatory. This post was emailed to John Swallow so that he can sue for any defamatory statements.

John Swallow is a professor and associate dean at the University of Colorado Denver. He was the chair of the Department of Integrative Biology (IB) while I was a tenured Associate Professor. CU Denver was aware that IB failed to serve its Black students, as they received 50% more DFW (D’s, F’s, and Withdraws) than White students in fundamental courses. CU Denver was also aware that IB has never hired a Black professor and that John Swallow lied about me to get me fired because Black colleagues and I complained about his racism. One would think that a lying, racist leader of a department that failed to provide success of Black students would not be promoted to Associate Dean for Student Success by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. However, as the truthful title states, that is exactly what happened.

Critical whiteness studies expert and scholar Robin DiAngelo defined the term “avowed racist” to distinguish between individuals who intentionally make racist decisions, or are unwilling to reverse racist actions or decisions, from individuals who make a racist “mistake”, but are willing to learn from that mistake, reverse course, and commit to not repeating the racist action. Avowed racists maintain and support race-based injustice, whereas people who are willing to address and reverse their racism can contribute to racial justice.

A scholarly definition of “racist” is a person (often White, but not necessarily so) with power who takes actions or makes decisions that harm BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color). I use the word “racist” in this scholarly manner based on objective outcomes of actions or decisions without any subjective guess of intent. That is, I based the racism of decisions made by John Swallow on how it harmed Haitians. I never made the claim expressed in the sign held by Milo the Lynx (see photo), even though John Swallow’s decisions towards Haitians are much more consistent with hatred than they are with respect, love, or deference. The large number of avowed racist decisions has caused me to wonder about John Swallow’s motives, but I have always relied on fact-based evidence to the consequences of his actions/decisions when fighting for racial justice at CU.

John Swallow is a White man who had the power to destroy the research and teaching that I was conducting with Black colleagues and students in Haiti. For example, he used his power to set teaching schedules to change my 4+0 teaching schedule to 2+2. A 4+0 teaching schedule is common for university professors because it accommodates international research like the research I was conducting in Haiti. Changing my schedule to 2+2 jeopardized my work that benefited Haitians, including a new grant that I had just received. At the time I did not recognize the racist nature of his decision, but my Haitians colleagues did. John Swallow complained about an email (click here for email) where the racist nature of his decision was brought to his attention:

“During the course of carrying out my duties as chair in evaluation I have been the target of bullying and subjected to regularly being called a racist, a liar, an oppressor, biased, unethical, etc. … In going over the emails from Dr. Cronin there has been a steady increase in the abuse to with regard to the allegations of racism. … Dr. Cronin began to disparage me [in] January 2015 [when] I was in Crested Butte skiing with my family. I had an email from Greg and I think he sent it to Pam [Jansma] too. His black colleagues in Haiti believe that IB leadership was racist. He did a Facebook friends analysis. I became really angry and I exploded. I sent an email to Pam [Dean] and Chris Puckett [University Counsel]. I explained that I was getting called a racist by this person for decisions I was making as the chair and I was really frustrated. I asked if I had protections as chair. I have had half a dozen conversations with him since that time. Every time something happens – he says that I am making a racist decision because the decision harms black people.”

I believe that John Swallow is being 100% truthful from his perspective. He is correct that he was responsible for evaluating my work: that is, an avowed racist was responsible for evaluating my work with Black colleagues and students. This is why the first time I ever received a “not meeting expectations” in 20 years of teaching was the year that I taught at a Haitian university and advised the thesis of the first student to ever earn an MS in Marine Conservation in Haiti. The teaching in Haiti was in addition to my teaching responsibilities at CU Denver. It was revealed during my dismissal hearing that faculty in Integrative Biology got teaching credit for teaching at an international White university even as I received no credit for teaching at a Black international university. It is true that I exposed his racist, lying, oppressive, biased, and unethical behavior, but I did so to encourage him to see his errors and to make the proper corrective adjustments. I told John Swallow that I would stop calling his decisions racist as soon as they were reversed. A racist’s refusal to reverse racist decisions is the very definition of avowed racist. John Swallow is correct that the first people to call out his racism were my Black colleagues in Haiti. Rather than reflect on how his decisions might be racist, and make non-racist or anti-racist decisions instead, John Swallow became frustrated, angry, and exploded. John Swallow could be the poster child for white fragility.

John Swallow asked CU Denver administration (Dean Pamela Jansma) and legal counsel (Chris Puckett) to protect him. This request for protection to be racist was granted. John Swallow and CU administrators conspired to destroy my reputation and career using a process known as academic mobbing. They went after me like Jim Jordan went after Hunter Biden, using untruthful, unethical, and unlawful means in the process, including the use of lying informants. Within a month John Swallow and co-conspirator Diana Tomback, who were represented by Chris Puckett, sent a defamatory letter (for example, they accused me of plagiarism) to the editor of a peer-reviewed journal that caused my Haiti research on the cholera epidemic to be retracted. That life-saving work was relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its retraction caused by John Swallow and Diana Tomback literally cost lives, particularly among BIPOC living in poor countries, which fits the academic definition of racism. The final phase of academic mobbing is expulsion, which was illegally carried out by the Regents of Colorado. With my unethical and illegal expulsion from the University of Colorado, my academic mobbing came to and end. John Swallow, CU administrators, and Colorado Regents no longer have power over me. I am now using my first amendment rights to report on racism at the University of Colorado under the protection of law. If they learned anything from Carroll v. Trump (2023), I suspect that CU will remain silent about facts that I report on here and in other venues, because they know that I am being truthful. They also know that I never signed a non-disclosure agreement or non-disparagement clause when we settled Cronin v. Univ. of Colorado Board of Regents et al. in a manner that I can briefly describe as “I won” (details in future post).

Components of the definition of “Avowed Racist” relevent to John Swallow

  (The table format did not convert to the blog).

Race and gender

1.     John Swallow: Identified as White male


Person with power

1.     John Swallow: Set teaching schedules

2.     John Swallow: Evaluated performance

3.     John Swallow: Approved travel reimbursements

4.     John Swallow: Protected by university administration and counsel

Decisions/actions that harmed BIPOC

1.     John Swallow: Changed teaching schedule that prevented Dr. Cronin from working in Haiti

2.    John Swallow: Devalued research in Haiti as service

3.    John Swallow: Devalued teaching in Haiti as service

4.    John Swallow: Failed to reward service in Haiti as anything

5.    John Swallow: Spread lies about Dr. Cronin that got him fired and hindered further work in Haiti

6.    John Swallow: Laughed that Dr. Cronin served the Black Student Union

7.     John Swallow: Caused peer-reviewed publications about Haiti to be retracted

8.    John Swallow: Would not reimburse conference costs when work in Haiti was presented

9.    John Swallow: Prevented the teaching of "Race and Racism in Biology"

Avowed/Resistant to non-racism or anti-racism

1.    John Swallow: Multiple occasions

2.    John Swallow: Rather than change racist behavior, he exploded and asked CU administration and counsel for protection



            It is amazing that an avowed racist would ask his Dean and University Counsel for protection from complaints, but the culture at CU Denver protected the avowed racist and fired the antiracist. The Office of Equity acknowledged that the decision by Chair Swallow was racist against my Haitian colleagues, but they refused to do anything about it because the victims of the racism were not members of the CU community, even though the racist was a member of CU. Instead of correcting the racist decision, the Office of Equity emboldened Chair Swallow by refusing to investigate my complaint (and future complaints about racism and retaliation), and left him in charge of supervising and evaluating my work with Black colleagues and students.

John Swallow’s quote states that I have called him a liar. Using the definition of lying as “knowingly telling an untruth”, combined with calling a person who lies a liar, then YES, John Swallow is a liar. I took a vow to always be truthful at CU, because it is the right thing to do and gives me credibility in all my antiracism efforts there. During all of their attempts to attack my reputation and fire me, my truthfulness was never called into question. Knowing that Chair Swallow has repeatedly lied, I asked him while he was under oath “Chair Swallow, I know you have seen this before, but I want to repeat it here. I have sent this to you in emails. It says, quote, I pledge to have always been honest with every member of the University community and to never have knowingly falsely accused a colleague of wrongdoing. This pledge applies to the past, present and future. And I will make that pledge today. I never plan to break that. You have never accepted my invitation to make the same pledge. Would you like to do that now?”

Chair Swallow replied “Greg, part of the reason I didn't accept the pledge is because I've always felt that it's been sort of a weird and odd thing to ask. I think that if you look at our interactions over the last eight years, my actions speak louder than a promise or a pledge. And then if you look at the outcome of, I don't know, there's been at least a dozen or so grievances that you have filed against me, at the college, office of equity, privilege and tenure, none of those grievances have found any wrongdoing on my part. And I think that it shows that I've always tried to act civilly, professionally, according to our department bylaws, and I stand by my actions.” Giving this long explanation instead of accepting the pledge demonstrates (1) he has lied and (2) he was empowered by the Office of Equity refusing to investigate any of my complaints.

In evaluating my work in Haiti, Chair John Swallow stated that my research was not meeting expectations during merit review. I told Chair Swallow that there was nothing inferior about my research in Haiti, and that if I failed to meet merit criteria, then the problem was with the evaluation and not my work. In other words, it is not surprising that having an avowed racist evaluate your work with Black colleagues will result in poor scores. Knowing that my research is far superior to his, I challenged John Swallow to a “Battle of the Researchers” event where we would each give a 30 minute seminar about our original research and the audience would determine the winner. The event would be in the format of “Battle of the Bands”. John Swallow did not accept the challenge, even though I gave him the choice of going first or second. His decision seems cowardly and shows that John Swallow knows that my research is superior to his own research. John Swallow, if you ever get the courage to demonstrate how your research is better than mine, the “Battle of the Researchers” challenge remains. I will compete anywhere, any time.