When two faculty members disagree about issues related to research, is it right for an administrator to intervene?
A faculty committee at the University of California at San Diego examined that question in a report this week that finds that a dean responded to a dispute between two professors by telling one not to publish or speak out about the other’s research. And that order, the committee concluded, violated basic principles of academic freedom.
“Faculty members’ rights to study, re-analyze, and publish controversial scholarly materials cannot be abridged,” says the report from the UCSD Committee on Academic Freedom. “These rights to academic freedom cannot be administratively revoked to prevent possible future breaching of professional norms. In our view, the campus administration’s fundamental responsibility is precisely to protect the right of faculty members to research and publish scholarly work even when others, on or off campus, find the work or its conclusions controversial or objectionable.”