The Johns Hopkins University, long considered a standard-bearer of academic freedom, has decided it is time to formally spell out its standards on a professor’s right to speak.
In the wake of controversies over the past year that involved faculty speech, the university announced last month that it would convene a panel of students and faculty members to write the university’s first-ever formal statement of principles on academic freedom.
Johns Hopkins first faced turbulence last spring after Benjamin S. Carson Sr., a professor of neurosurgery who was slated to speak at the medical school’s commencement, equated advocates of gay marriage with those who promote bestiality and pedophilia during an appearance on Fox News. Dr. Carson, who has since retired, withdrew as commencement speaker under pressure from students.
The university generated new controversy in the fall. A cryptology researcher, Matthew D. Green, wrote a blog post in September criticizing the National Security Agency for its aggressive surveillance strategies, a post that the dean of Hopkins’s engineering school demanded he take it down. Hours later, after a barrage of media criticism, the university allowed Mr. Green to restore his blog post. The dean apologized and, in doing so, insisted he was “supportive of academic freedom.” <Read more.>