Yesterday afternoon, SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner sent an e-mail to all faculty members reassuring them that he has always supported free speech and diversity of opinions, his recent foray into censorship, prior review, and meddling with a professor’s livelihood notwithstanding. He wrote,
Dear Colleagues:I would like to clarify a recent subject of campus concern. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a requirement for pre-approval of faculty writings as a condition for promotion. As a member of this campus, I have always supported free speech and have always encouraged activities that nurture and foster the diversity of opinions that are at our very core. SUNY Fredonia has a long and distinguished history of respecting and appreciating all forms of diversity, including diversity of thought. Additionally, this campus fully complies with all sections of the state-wide SUNY policy on Academic Freedom. Not only does the campus believe in the concepts contained in this SUNY policy, but I want you to know that I am fully committed to supporting all tenets of this important policy.Sincerely,Dennis L. Hefner, Ph.D.President
Of course, we see here no admission that Hefner’s conversion experience is the result of vociferous disapproval of how he handled Stephen Kershnar’s promotion. Still, we’ll take it as a sign that Hefner has learned his lesson, and that in the future SUNY Fredonia professors will not have to undergo the travails that Kershnar did.