Press Releases | Freedom of Expression

Statement on Johns Hopkins University’s Adoption of Academic Freedom Policy

September 16, 2015

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) today praised the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees for adopting a statement upholding academic freedom, and called on college and university governing boards around the country to do the same. 

Hopkins announced the policy on Friday, September 11. Earlier this year, its Task Force on Academic Freedom released a draft statement, seeking widespread internal and external feedback. In a memorandum to the president and provost, dated May 8, 2015, ACTA proposed removing language that appeared to undermine students’ academic freedom. The new Hopkins statement removed the language of concern.

Earlier this summer, ACTA released a letter to over 19,000 college and university trustees, urging the country’s governing boards to be more engaged stewards of the public interest by demanding the free exchange of ideas on college campuses. The letter highlighted the policy adopted by Purdue University that endorsed the University of Chicago’s 2014 Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression, which affirms that “mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable.”

“We hope that boards across the country will vigorously resolve to demand and protect the free exchange of ideas. It is the lifeblood of a liberal education,” ACTA President Anne D. Neal said. “Too many on our college and university campuses seem to believe that sensitivities trump free speech; this is just plain wrong and undermines the rich intellectual life of a campus. We commend Chicago, Princeton, Purdue, and now Johns Hopkins for vigorously supporting academic freedom, and we hope all institutions and their boards will do the same.”  


Molly Mitchell
Director of Communications


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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