Anming Hu, an associate professor in Tickle College of Engineering's Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, has been reinstated to his tenured faculty position after a years-long legal struggle concerning federal charges of wire fraud and making false statements, charges of which he was acquitted in September 2021.
In an email to staff and faculty in the Tickle College of Engineering on Thursday, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick and Tickle College of Engineering Dean Matthew Mench announced that Hu was reinstated effective Feb. 1. According to the Knox News Sentinel, Hu received $300,000 to restart his research into nanotechnologies.
"We are pleased to share that Dr. Anming Hu has been reinstated to his tenured faculty position as associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering,” the email said. “Working with Dr. Hu, we have developed a plan to help him re-establish his research program in nanomanufacturing.”
"Dr. Hu and his family have been through a lengthy and disruptive ordeal. We ask that you please join us in warmly welcoming him back to the faculty."
Hu was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice for false accusations from the FBI that he had broken the law by hiding ties to a university in China while receiving contracts from NASA. The trial over the initial prosecution found that UT administrators cooperated with authorities during Hu’s arrest in February 2020 and that they suspended him without pay and fired him eight months later.
The years-long ordeal was part of the Trump administration’s “China Initiative,” which began in 2018 as a means to root out espionage for China in higher education. The program has faced public criticism for its mishandling of several prominent cases including Hu’s, and for what critics see as its mode of racial profiling.
Though UT offered to reinstate Hu in October 2021, several months elapsed before the university had sorted out a work visa for Hu, a naturalized Canadian citizen. Hu, who was separated from his family during the investigation and failed prosecution attempts, wanted his job back, but also wanted to know that his tenured position and research capabilities would be restored.
In an interview with the Knox News Sentinel, Hu said he was excited to begin work again, even though the damage of the past few years were “still painful.”
"I came to the U.S. to build my career and to contribute to the university, to the state, to the country,” Hu said. “So I have no problem moving on. I don't want to stick on the past.”