Academic Freedom on the Front Lines

January 11, 2005

By any measure,

Brooklyn College ’s current leadership sports a dreary record regarding the protection of academic freedom on campus. In 2002, the college unsuccessfully attempted to deny me promotion and the resulting tenure for “uncollegial” behavior—which the administration defined, in writing, as disagreeing with the political, curricular, and personnel opinions of some senior colleagues. Last fall, the administration proposed making “collegiality” a basis of evaluation for the scholarship, teaching, service, and overall performance of all untenured faculty. (No doubt many faculty leftists would deem “uncollegial” the scholarship of Richard Pipes or the teaching of John Lewis Gaddis.) A few weeks later, an administration-invited speaker, Cathy Trower, urged members of college personnel committees to require all white male—and only white male—applicants to demonstrate a commitment to “diversity” before they could join the faculty. This past summer, exercising his responsibility under the CUNY Bylaws to enhance “the educational standards and general academic excellence of the college under his jurisdiction,” President C.M. Kimmich appointed to the History personnel committee a women’s studies professor whose website affirms her belief in combining her scholarship with activism for “assorted radical causes” but who in one job search had thought nothing of asking an applicant who had written for a conservative, Christian webzine about whether his kind of political beliefs belonged in the classroom. And on curricular matters, the college has zealously followed the written mantra of Provost Roberta Matthews: “Teaching is a political act...

Schools: Brooklyn College, City University of New York Cases: Brooklyn College: Administrative Attempt to Stop Academic Freedom Resolution