Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

University leaders stress importance of academic freedom

Three of the university’s top academic leaders have signed a joint statement affirming U-M’s commitment to academic freedom.


More information

Joint message on academic freedom
U-M’s Freedom of Information Office

The email message, sent Tuesday to all members of the faculty, was signed by President Mary Sue Coleman, Provost Phil Hanlon and Professor Edward Rothman, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs.

The message was sent to underscore “the university’s strongest possible commitment” to academic freedom after U-M received a Freedom of Information request in March for university email messages that may contain certain keywords associated with the political battle in Wisconsin over labor unions.

The message says:

“Protecting students’ and the faculty’s right to pursue lines of inquiry and express ideas without fear of reprisal is fundamental to the university’s core missions of research and education.  The pursuit of answers, however unpopular, cannot be constricted if we are to remain a place of open and vigorous debate.

“The standard of academic freedom is incorporated throughout the fabric of the university.  The principles of academic freedom are ones we will always uphold and defend.”

The university’s FOIA office is working to determine what records may be responsive to this request. FOIA officials will, as they do with every request under the FOIA, weigh the university’s obligation for disclosure against exemptions provided in the state law.