The University Record, September 25, 2000

Academic Freedom symposium celebrates 10th anniversary on Oct. 7

By Theresa Maddix

Two-time Pulitzer Prize recipient and New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis will keynote “Freedom: The Seamless Web” at 9 a.m. Oct. 7 to kick off a day full of prominent lawyers, journalists and historians at the Davis, Markert, Nickerson Academic Freedom 10th anniversary celebration. The symposium will include three panels, a Michigan Theater screening of Keeping in Mind and a new book, Unfettered Expression: Freedom in American Intellectual Life.

The annual lecture is named for three U-M faculty members—Chandler Davis, Clement Markert and Mark Nickerson—who in 1954 were called to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. All invoked constitutional rights and refused to answer questions about their political associations.

The three were suspended from the University, with subsequent hearings and committee actions resulting in the reinstatement of Markert and the dismissal of Davis and Nickerson, who held tenure.

Keeping in Mind, a video documentary based on the treatment of Davis, Markert and Nickerson, was originally prepared by then-LS&A student Adam Kulakow and first shown April 9, 1989. The three honored professors were in the audience. Another audience member proposed after the showing that the University make amends for its treatment of the professors in 1955. In November 1990, the Senate Assembly passed a resolution that regretted “the failure of the University Community to protect the values of intellectual freedom” and established the Senate Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom. The lecture is sponsored by the Academic Freedom Lecture Fund (AFLF).

AFLF Chair Peggie Hollingsworth, former chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA), explains the expansion of the 10th anniversary lecture into a symposium, saying, “We wanted to provide additional honor and recognition to these scholars, two of whom are now deceased, by bringing together some of the most preeminent speakers in the field in one place at one time.”

Hollingsworth, President Lee C. Bollinger and current SACUA Chair Jacqueline Lawson will present the welcome Oct. 7. Bollinger is a professor of law and a nationally-recognized expert on the First Amendment. Lawson is an associate professor of English and of communications at U-M-Dearborn.

The first Academic Freedom panel, “Silencing Voices,” will be moderated by ACLU president Nadine Strossen. Ellen W. Shrecker and Roger W. Wilkins are the other two panelists.

In addition to her presidency of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Strossen is a professor of law at New York Law School and the author of Defending Pornography. Shrecker, professor of American history at Yeshiva University, is the editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors. Wilkins, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University, is a former U.S. assistant attorney general and a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

The second panel, “Scientific Evidence: Junk or Cutting Edge Science,” will be moderated by American Scientist editor Rosalind Reid. She will be joined by Barry J. Nace and Joseph Sanders.

Nace, senior partner at Paulson and Nace, Washington, D.C., is a former president of the Trial Lawyers of America. Sanders, the A.A. White Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center, teaches law and social science, as well as products liability, scientific evidence and torts.

“Constructive Dialogues on Thorny Issues” will be moderated by Robert O’Neil, founding director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. O’Neil also is a former president of the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin. Joining O’Neil are Edward Gramlich and Eugene Roberts Jr.

Gramlich is a governor of the Federal Reserve System and former dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and professor of economics and of public policy. Roberts, professor of journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park, is a former managing editor of The New York Times.

A showing of Keeping in Mind will end the symposium 2–4 p.m. Oct. 8 in the screening room of the Michigan Theater. Creator Kulakow will give comments beforehand and a panel discussion will be held afterwards.

Unfettered Expression: Freedom in American Intellectual Life, edited by Hollingsworth with a foreword by David Halberstam, is a compilation of the nine previous Academic Freedom Lectures. It will be available at the symposium, at the Michigan Theater and at local bookstores.