FIRE’s President Steps Down to ‘Step Up’

December 2, 2005

David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has stepped down to join the U.S. Army Reserve.

Mr. French, 36, started the enlistment process to join the Judge Advocate General’s Corps after the military raised the age limit for the Reserve and the National Guard from 34 to 39 in March.

As a supporter of the war in Iraq, Mr. French says he felt a personal responsibility to join the Army after the age limit was raised. "People who believe the things I believe should step up," he says.

His support of the war was his sole reason for leaving the advocacy group after less than two years at the helm, he says. "This was a personal decision. FIRE is a wonderful organization with a talented staff that is going to be fine without me."

Mr. French became president in June 2004 after serving as a pro bono lawyer for the group. He will leave his job at the end of the year and return to practice law in Columbia, Tenn., until he is called into military service. He plans to continue to do legal work for FIRE.

"We’re very sorry to see him go," says Harvey A. Silverglate, a founder of the organization. "He was a terrific president."

FIRE, which was founded in 1999 and is based in Philadelphia, provides legal aid to students and professors who believe that their First Amendment rights have been violated.

Greg Lukianoff, 31, who is director of legal and public advocacy for the group, will serve as interim president until a permanent replacement is found. The organization expects the search to take no longer than four months.