In Support of Academic Freedom at the University of Nebraska Lincoln

Below is an open letter of support from 31 faculty members in the Department of English at Kansas State University. For more information about the events prompting this letter, see the reporting provided by Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education.


 

December 1, 2017

To the Members of the Nebraska Board of Regents, Chancellor Green, President Bounds, Executive Vice Chancellor Plowman, Dean Francisco, and Department Chair Abel:

We have followed with increasing dismay the reported attacks on our neighboring university and want to register our support for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) and especially its Department of English in the face of aggressive, punitive targeting by various political forces.

As reported in the Omaha World-Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star, the Daily Nebraskan, Inside Higher Ed, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, an unfortunate incident between two students has triggered an attempt to discredit the academic mission of the department and to undermine academic freedom at the entire university. This assault on the intellectual integrity of an outstanding university jeopardizes the great tradition of public education in the United States.

We share a commitment to both thoughtful examination of texts for their humanist values and attention to those values’ intersection with the larger world, which the UNL English Department’s mission statement calls imaginative reasoning. We condemn the efforts to interfere in the professional work of individual faculty through sweeping open records demands, calls for ending academic tenure, threats of economic retribution, and other attempts to intimidate the university faculty and administration for partisan ends.

More than 100 years ago, the American Association of University Professors first laid out the importance of academic freedom as a right and a duty. We wish to call attention to the updated principles that in 1940 marked the tradition of intellectual integrity which has underlain the rise of American universities to the highest world prominence:

“Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning.”

We, the undersigned faculty of the Department of English, support our colleagues at UNL in their pursuit of these principles and decry the attempt to prevent their implementation in teaching, research, and service at any institution of higher learning.

Cydney Alexis
Assistant Professor

Steffi Dippold
Assistant Professor

Elizabeth Dodd
University Distinguished Professor

Gregory Eiselein
Professor

Carol Franko
Associate Professor

Roger Friedmann
Instructor

Anna Goins
Instructor

Tanya Gonzalez
Professor

Charlotte Hyde
Assistant Professor

Katherine Karlin
Associate Professor

A. Abby Knoblauch
Associate Professor

Mary Kohn
Associate Professor

Cameron Leader-Picone
Associate Professor

Anne Longmuir
Associate Professor

James L. Machor
Professor

Anuja Madan
Assistant Professor

Deborah Murray
Instructor

Philip Nel
University Distinguished Professor

Chris Nelson
Instructor

Ania Payne
Instructor

Anne Phillips
Professor

Tom Sarmiento
Assistant Professor

Kimball Smith
Associate Professor

Lisa Tatonetti
Professor

Danielle Tarner
Instructor

Karin E. Westman
Department Head and Associate Professor

Alison Wheatley
Associate Professor

Naomi Wood
Professor

Han Yu
Professor

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