Chapel Hill’s Jay M. Smith says school administrators are scared of academic freedom

Historians in the News
tags: education, Jay M Smith



Jay M. Smith is a professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Related Links

●  UNC Rejects Faculty Panel’s Finding That Administrators Interfered in Critic’s Class on Sports

●  Professor Can't Teach His Pet Course, So Claims Attack on Academic Freedom (National Review)

UNC-Chapel Hill administrators have at last shed some light on the thinking that lay behind their war on my course on the history of college sports.That thinking is so flawed, and so tainted by dishonesty, that it requires a detailed rebuttal. (Editor's note: For the view from the UNC-Chapel Hill administration, see this column by Joel Curran.)

In October 2017, an independent faculty grievance committee at UNC found that administrators' behavior in my case had been "inconsistent" with UNC's commitment to academic freedom. The chancellor and the provost have deployed five basic arguments in defense of their decisionto overturn those findings. 

First, they claim, my grievance should never have been heard because I was permitted to teach my course this spring. This dodge simply ignores the actual content of my grievance, which involved not the scheduling of the course but the gross violation of the protocols that govern course scheduling. A department chair was intimidated and a faculty member singled out for harassment. Nowhere in their responses to the grievance committee report do they acknowledge the intimidation that lay at the heart of this conflict. Instead they suggest that it is normal for a faculty member to have to fight for his right to teach; such reasoning is an offense to intelligent people everywhere. 

Second, they claim that acceptance of the grievance committee recommendation — that administrators acknowledge departmental authority in course scheduling — would jeopardize the dean's "authority to oversee" curriculum. At all UNC institutions, deans exercise oversight by establishing the processes and faculty personnel that determine the soundness of every new course and program of study. My course was approved by faculty committees appointed by the dean of the college. Blocking or quashing a course that has been duly approved by his own appointed committees is not part of the dean's remit. ...

Read entire article at The News and Observer

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