Press Releases | Intellectual Diversity

U.S. Senate to Discuss Intellectual Diversity

ACTA’s President to Outline Threats to Academic Freedom and How Trustees Can Help
October 29, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC—The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on intellectual diversity in higher education with American Council of Trustees and Alumni president Anne Neal as the lead witness. ACTA is a national network of trustees and alumni dedicated to academic freedom and excellence.

The Committee will hear testimony about the extent to which “political correctness”—the intolerance of certain social and political views—creates a coercive atmosphere at colleges and universities that is incompatible with the kind of diversity of viewpoints that distinguishes education from indoctrination.

Neal’s testimony will examine the state of academic freedom on our college and university campuses and outline ways in which dialogue and debate have been undermined by the disinviting of controversial speakers, punishment of faculty who fail to conform to the dominant ideologies of the day, one-sided courses and one-sided faculty, students fearful of reprisal or caricature if they speak their minds, as well as hundreds of campus speech codes which limit or restrict speech.

The testimony will also present recommendations for ways to ensure intellectual diversity.

“Not all problems invite legislative mandates and this is one of them,” says Neal. “Rather, it should be up to boards of trustees to protect academic freedom—of both faculty and students —from internal as well as external threats.”

ACTA recommends the following:

  • Trustees should adopt a statement or resolution that all faculty are expected to present points of view other than their own in a balanced way and respect and nurture students’ ability to make up their own minds on contentious issues.
  • Trustees should adopt a policy underscoring that the focus of courses is intellectual development and the acquisition of knowledge and skills, not the manipulation of attitudes or engaging in political activism.
  • Trustees should insist that their institutions offer broad-based survey courses designed to expose students to the best that has been done and said.
  • Trustees should insist that speaker programs sponsored by the university present a range of points of view.
  • Trustees should make clear that they will not tolerate ideological or political discrimination in the hiring, firing, or promoting of faculty. Trustees should monitor tenure decisions—both granting and denying—on a regular basis.
  • Trustees should direct administrators and faculty to engage in an “intellectual diversity review” to see whether students are exposed to diverse points of view in classroom readings, speakers series, etc., and whether partisan or ideological bias is influencing hiring and retention.
  • Congress should hold periodic hearings to raise public awareness of this problem, and should encourage faculty, administrators, and boards of trustees voluntarily to conduct intellectual diversity reviews and to make the results public so that students, parents and taxpayers can see what the facts are.
  • Congress should target federal grants to promote the study and teaching of American history, politics and the law. ACTA commends Sen. Gregg for sponsoring SR 1515, the Higher Education for Freedom Act, which focuses on this need.

ACTA is a nonprofit educational organization of trustees and alumni dedicated to academic freedom and excellence.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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