A Personal Message from FIRE President David French

By November 11, 2005

Dear Friends and Supporters:

During my tenure as president of FIRE, we have expanded our staff, reached out to more students, professors, and supporters than ever, and brought FIRE’s impact on individual rights in higher education to an unprecedented level of national prominence. My tenure, but not these revolutionary and positive changes, will end on December 31.

I have recently decided to leave both FIRE and Philadelphia to return to law practice in my wife’s home state of Tennessee. I will continue to serve as an active member of FIRE’s Legal Network, as I have since its inception, and I have also taken steps to enlist in the United States Army Reserve as a Judge Advocate General officer. I intend to join the Army Reserve for the same reason I joined FIRE’s Legal Network and then its full-time staff: to defend the freedoms for which millions have fought, bled, and died.

My views on foreign policy are of course my own, not FIRE’s. But this is a personal message from me, and so I feel I should explain what may seem a puzzling decision. In short, I have come to believe that during a struggle that I see as vitally important, I have a duty to serve my country as members of my family have since the Revolution. Since that belief has spurred me to begin the process of enlisting, it would be impractical for me to continue as FIRE’s president.

FIRE’s outstanding work will continue without interruption and without any drop-off in intensity or effectiveness because of FIRE’s impressive full-time staff of 12. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, FIRE continues to grow. We are defending more students and professors and intervening at more universities than ever before. We are receiving a record number of case submissions—60 complaints in October alone—and our educational outreach efforts are expanding at a geometric rate. There have been 100,000 downloads of FIRE’s Guides, we have 200,000 monthly visits to FIRE’s website (a 300 percent increase from a year ago), and so far this year, news stories about FIRE’s work have reached hundreds of millions of readers, listeners, and viewers. But these numbers do not capture the sense of hope that FIRE has brought to campuses across the country. Simply put, there is an answer to the repression and ideological intolerance of the modern university. With FIRE’s resources and expertise, a student or professor can fight—and win—against the most prestigious and powerful educational institutions. Liberty can prevail.

I will stay at FIRE for the remainder of the year while FIRE initiates a national search for my successor—for a person who can lead FIRE to the next level of cultural influence. I am profoundly grateful to FIRE’s cofounders Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate, to the members of FIRE’s Board of Directors, and to the members of FIRE’s Board of Advisors for the opportunity to lead FIRE. I am touched by how FIRE’s friends and supporters embraced me from the very first moments of my presidency and thank all of you.

There would not be a FIRE without you. Your continued support will sustain the cause of liberty on campus.

Warm regards,

David French, President
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)