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Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Irony Alert, Academic Freedom Edition

On Steve's post about former Purdue President calling for the end of tenure: The last episode (Sept. 2022) of Keith Whittington's unfortunately discontinued Academic Freedom Podcast featured an interview with . . . Mitch Daniels. The episode description says "During his time at Purdue, President Daniels has carved out a national reputation as a leader on campus free speech issues. Daniels shares the principles and practices he has followed to dramatically improve Purdue’s rating as a defender of academic freedom. The university most recently appeared at number three on FIRE’s College Free Speech Rankings." I guess he changed his mind.

To be fair, FIRE's rankings mostly measure student perception and feelings and the usual campus-speech hobby horses (tolerance for speakers, disinvitations, student attitudes towards disruption, "openness" to difficult conversations, fears that fellow students will think worse of you because of what you say, etc.). It also includes how many times a school sanctioned a scholar for their speech during a "campus controversy." Tenure, the vigor of tenure protections, and the attitude of top administrators towards tenure are not part of the study* despite, as Steve describes, the obvious connection to the university's mission of disseminating knowledge and to protecting the expression of unpopular views.

[*] Which also may explain how three Florida State University System institutions, including mine, can be in the top 50 despite a state effort to eliminate tenure in anything more than name.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 17, 2023 at 09:31 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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