PHILADELPHIA, March 23, 2006—The Board of Directors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is pleased to announce that after a national search, it has chosen Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s former director of legal and public advocacy, as the new president of FIRE. Lukianoff had been serving as the nonpartisan civil-liberties group’s interim president.
Alan Charles Kors, co-founder of FIRE and chairman of the Board of Directors, said, “I am thrilled and gratified by this appointment and by Greg’s acceptance. No one has been more devoted to FIRE’s mission and to its principles than he. No one has been more successful in defending victims of campus injustice and in educating the public about the deepest issues of American liberty and fairness, and no one understands FIRE’s voice, activity, and importance more deeply. He knows how to teach, and he knows how to win.”
Lukianoff, an attorney, has been with FIRE since 2001, when he was hired as FIRE’s first director of legal and public advocacy. Before joining FIRE, Lukianoff earned his degree from Stanford Law School, where he focused on First Amendment and constitutional law, and practiced law in northern California. At FIRE, Lukianoff played a primary role in defining FIRE’s legal and public strategies, which have been overwhelmingly successful in the courts of law and of public opinion. He has represented FIRE in numerous published articles and editorials, as well as on local and national radio and television programs. Along with Harvey A. Silverglate and David French, Lukianoff co-authored FIRE’s acclaimed Guide to Free Speech on Campus.
“I am both humbled and honored that the board has chosen me to be president of FIRE,” said Lukianoff. “In my four and a half years with FIRE, I have seen us grow from a small yet potent voice for liberty on campus to a force for meaningful campus reform. I am deeply excited for FIRE’s future and for the successes yet to come.”
Kors commented, “This is a remarkable time for FIRE. We never have had a more dedicated, talented, principled, and accomplished staff. Working with Greg, they will expand the scope of American liberty on our campuses, and they will ensure that the principles of fairness, of legal equality, and of individual rights and responsibilities do not disappear from higher education.”
Lukianoff’s commitment to FIRE’s mission is demonstrated in his recent challenge to American college newspapers to recognize the newsworthiness of the Mohammed cartoons. Under his leadership, FIRE took a strong stand on behalf of the freedom of the college press to print the cartoons and against an effort by a Minnesota college to censor the cartoons’ display by a professor.
Since he was named as FIRE’s interim president, Lukianoff has overseen more than a dozen successes in cases that are critically important in the battle for campus liberty. Examples include:
- Washington State University: FIRE brought an end to political litmus tests for students at Washington State’s College of Education. Washington State had been using vague “dispositions” requirements to punish those with politically conservative views. Prior to this case, “dispositions” evaluations were virtually unchallenged at a growing number of schools.
- University of Wisconsin System: FIRE’s intervention on behalf of Christian resident assistant Lance Steiger was critical in vindicating religious liberty for students across the entire University of Wisconsin system. Last week, the system’s board of regents overturned a policy that forbade resident assistants from conducting private and voluntary Bible studies in their own dorm rooms or dormitories.
- University of Central Florida: FIRE successfully defended a student who was threatened with punishment for criticizing a student government candidate on an Internet site.
- Hampton University: FIRE successfully protested Hampton University’s threat to expel several students merely for distributing unapproved political flyers on campus that protested the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Students at the private Virginia university instead received a minor punishment while Hampton publicly affirmed a commitment to free expression.
- William Paterson University: At this public institution in New Jersey, FIRE successfully defended a religious Muslim student who was punished for “harassment” for sending an e-mail response to a professor in which he expressed his religious opinion of homosexuality.
- Le Moyne College: FIRE defended a student who was unjustly expelled from an education program at this private New York college for a paper in which he advocated corporal punishment. In January, a state appeals court agreed that the student’s due process rights had been unlawfully ignored.
Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and vice-chairman, observed, “Greg’s knowledge of the law and his ability to use that knowledge effectively on behalf of individual rights are matched only by his understanding of the moral issues and principles that underlie our nation’s commitment to its freedom. His approach to freedom is utterly principled and non-partisan, which is the only way liberty can be secured over the long run. I can think of no one more qualified than Greg to lead FIRE into the future.”
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty across America can be viewed at thefire.org.