August 14, 2006

Kershnar and pacing

FIRE reported today that SUNY Fredonia gave philosopher Stephen Kershnar a promotion to full professor that had been denied earlier this year because, well, administrators didn't like Kershnar's criticizing them in public. Good for Kershnar and everyone else who helped fight this. That's a rapid turnaround on an academic freedom issue, relatively speaking, and good news.

ACTA's blog today has an odd comment implying that it is to the shame of AAUP that it didn't get publicly involved before the case was resolved. I have no idea whether the AAUP's staff has been involved at all, and neither does ACTA. In the past several years, there have been cases where FIRE went public long before AAUP. For example, in the case of Sami Al-Arian, FIRE went public with a letter to USF's president and simultaneous press release January 29, 2002 (41 days after the Board of Trustees star chamber proceeding meeting trying to direct his firing). A little over a week later the AAUP announced it would send an investigating committee to campus later in the spring. But I distinctly remember reading a letter that AAUP sent the university president earlier. Often, the first AAUP attempt to cope with a controversy is behind the scenes, to allow an administrator to save face. Again, I'm not saying that's what happened in the Kershnar case, but it's foolish to look at the timeline of what's publicly available and conclude that's all that's happening. And in the Al-Arian case, both FIRE and AAUP acted after faculty at USF did.

Incidentally, I need to go back and see if I published yet my comments on the Al-Arian case, now that the case is (nominally) over and he's been sentenced.

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Posted in Academic freedom on August 14, 2006 7:16 PM |