Minnesota Faculty Panel Affirms On-Campus Free Speech

The University of Minnesota’s top faculty committee voted 7 to 2 last week to provisionally support a statement backing free speech on campus as the institution’s “paramount value,” according to The Washington Post. Dale Carpenter, Distinguished University Teaching Professor and Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, wrote in a guest blog post that the resolution adopted by the Faculty Consultative Committee (of which he is a part), has requested input on the statement from Minnesota’s president, provost, Student Senate and other groups, but was moved to affirm free speech rights in light of recent on-campus incidents.

In November, pro-Palestinian protesters -- three of whom were arrested -- repeatedly disrupted a speech by Moshe Halbertal, a law professor from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. And last academic year, the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigated and questioned the judgment of professors involved in a panel on free speech who promoted it using a Charlie Hebdo cover featuring Muhammad (the inquiry was prompted by student, faculty and external complaints).

The committee’s statement reads, in part, “Ideas are the lifeblood of a free society and universities are its beating heart. If freedom of speech is undermined on a university campus, it is not safe anywhere. The University of Minnesota resolves that the freedom of speech is, and will always be, safe at this institution.” The statement says that protecting free speech means embracing the following principles:

  1. A public university must be absolutely committed to protecting free speech, both for constitutional and academic reasons.
  2. Free speech includes protection for speech that some find offensive, uncivil or even hateful.
  3. Free speech cannot be regulated on the ground that some speakers are thought to have more power or more access to the mediums of speech than others.
  4. Even when protecting free speech conflicts with other important university values, free speech must be paramount.
A university spokesperson noted via email Monday that in a speech earlier this month, President Eric Kaler said that "the University of Minnesota promotes a climate of open, thoughtful and civil debate among our campus community. We encourage all to speak with respect and understanding of others, but we should not forbid speech that shocks, hurts or angers. Professor Carpenter's notion that, 'The best response to offensive ideas is to counter them with better ideas,' is spot on. If there is any space in society for that, it’s the university."
The spokesman also said that the committee's resolution is "the beginning of a dialogue in [the committee] with an objective of reaching a consensus that effects the input of a broad cross section of campus."
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Arizona President Criticized for Joining DeVry Board

Linda Katehi, chancellor of the University of California at Davis, lasted only days on the board of the DeVry Education Group. She quit amid criticism for joining the DeVry board while the for-profit education provider was under investigation. Katehi was named to the DeVry board at the same time as another university president, Ann Weaver Hart of the University of Arizona. Initially, there was no controversy over the issue in Arizona.

But now members of the Faculty Senate and others are asking questions and 17 people have submitted complaints about Hart taking the position to the Arizona Board of Regents, The Arizona Daily Star reported. Hart is defending her decision to take the board seat, through which she will earn $70,000 plus $100,000 in stock.

Hart said she plans to work on the board "toward assuring that higher education is available to a segment of Americans who will never be able to attend universities like the University of Arizona."

Opening Up the 'Black Box' of Higher Ed Finances

Colleges and universities should embrace a new financial model in which campus financial data are linked to student outcomes information and shared much more transparently with key campus constituencies, a new report from the American Council on Education and the TIAA-CREF Institute argues. The paper, "Evolving Higher Education Business Models: Leading With Data to Deliver Results," asserts that giving faculty members and administrators better data about costs, revenues and outcomes at the program level will allow institutions to make better decisions, involving all key constituents, about which programs are effective and efficient.

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Kennesaw State Professor Arrested for Protesting Campus Carry Bill

Amy Donahue, an assistant professor of philosophy at Kennesaw State University, was arrested Friday in the Georgia Capitol for protesting the state’s proposed concealed campus carry law, similar to the one recently passed -- against faculty and administrative concerns -- in Texas. State troopers handcuffed and arrested Donahue for disruption of the General Assembly and obstruction of an officer for holding a 22-by-28-inch sign opposing the legislation, which later passed the Georgia Senate, the Savannah Morning News reported. (The bill next goes to Governor Nathan Deal, who could sign it into law.)

Donahue was allowed to enter the building with her sign and visited an additional floor before she was arrested, according to the Morning News. The paper reported that groups routinely bring signs into the building, and Donahue’s arrest angered the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, whose executive director, Hollie Manheimer, said in a statement, "It appears this citizen was trying to express herself, but instead was arrested. Law enforcement operated under a criminal statute, even though there seems to have been no evidence that the citizen was obstructing the hallway or any area at all, with the intent to cause disruption.”

But a spokesperson from Kennesaw State suggested otherwise. Tammy DeMel told the Morning News, “We have the utmost respect for the General Assembly, and while we support appropriate expressions of opinion, we do not condone the disruptive activities associated with this incident.” Donahue was charged with two misdemeanors and released on a $2,000 bond. Via email, Donahue declined immediate comment.

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Berkeley Law Dean, Accused of Harassment, Resigns

Sujit Choudhry resigned as dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday, shortly after his former assistant filed a suit accusing him of sexual harassment, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Choudhry will continue to receive pay as a faculty member.

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Lumina Releases Papers on Performance-Based Funding

The Lumina Foundation on Thursday released a second batch of white papers on performance-based funding in higher education. This group of five papers focuses on lessons from states that have linked funding for state colleges to metrics such as on-time graduation and the number of at-risk students who graduate.

For example, two of the analyses look at results in Tennessee, which has the nation's most ambitious performance-based funding formula. Another examines an aggressive approach that Texas State Technical College System has used to voluntarily tie its state contribution to graduates' earnings.

The foundation eventually plans to release 13 of the papers.

“Lumina believes thoughtfully designed approaches to public financing must prioritize both college access and completion,” said Jamie Merisotis, the foundation's president and CEO, in a written statement. “A focus on equity in student outcomes is an essential objective of today’s outcomes-based funding models. In addition to increasing attainment, we must close the current achievement gaps for students of color and low-income students.”

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