Unsung Heroes

By on April 29, 2005

Since the 1980s, there has been a handful of faculty members
who have sacrificed time, energy, peace, and, too often, fair treatment, in
order to stand up for the rights of their students and their colleagues. It is
hard to imagine their colleges and universities without them. They bear witness
to the deepest values of critical mind, liberty, legal equality, and fairness. They
speak truth to campus power. They rally opposition to tendentious or
invidiously discriminatory programs. They do everything they can to hold
administrators to the promises of academic freedom to which those
administrators subscribe in theory, but, alas, subscribe so rarely in practice.
I do not know their politics, which extend, I am sure, across the spectrum, but
I know their commitments to the dignity of liberty and mind. At the University
of California at San Diego, Hal Pashler, professor of psychology; at
West Virginia University, Daniel Shapiro, professor of philosophy, and Robert
Griffith
, professor of pharmacy; at the University of Alaska, Judith
Kleinfeld
, professor of psychology in education, and Stephen Haycox,
professor of history; at the University of Pennsylvania, long before I ever
learned to say a word, Michael Cohen, now professor emeritus of physics;
at the University of Delaware, Linda Gottfredson, professor of
psychology and education; at the University of Wisconsin, Donald Downs,
professor of political science; at the University of Massachusetts, Robert
Costrell
, professor of economics; at the University of Alabama, David
Beito
, professor of history, and Charles Nuckolls, professor of
anthropology; at Brooklyn College, KC Johnson, professor of history; These
are the unsung heroes of American academic life, the keepers of faculty honor,
the guardians of the flames of honest debate and of freedom. We shall talk
further about such people, and we shall expand the honor roll—there are many,
many more such souls—but it is time to start naming and thanking them.