Press Releases | Freedom of Expression

ACTA Unveils its Heroes of Intellectual Freedom

May 29, 2019 by ACTA

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has launched “Heroes of Intellectual Freedom,” which highlights stories of principled individuals who have thoughtfully and respectfully argued for academic freedom. As free expression is continually dismantled across the nation on many college campuses, and university leadership is too often afraid to resist students’ demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings, and censorship of “offensive” views, it is important to honor and recognize the brave few within the academy who have worked to promote free speech—often at the risk of their careers.

The inaugural list of heroes includes:

  • Samuel Abrams, Professor of Politics at Sarah Lawrence College
  • Luana Maroja, Associate Professor of Biology at Williams College
  • Martha Pollack, President of Cornell University
  • Melvin Oliver, President of Pitzer College
  • Christina Paxson, President of Brown University

While there are countless champions of free expression outside of the academy, ACTA has chosen to focus on leaders who are on campus, those who encounter significant risks for taking their principled positions.

All those honored thus far have shown tremendous leadership, but higher education needs even more heroes if every student is to receive a quality education. “Too many campuses have succumbed to a despotism of majority opinion. ACTA is proud to honor the campus heroes who pull higher education back to the unfettered freedom of thought that is the lifeblood of American higher education,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff.

CONTACT: Doug Sprei, Director of Communications    (202) 467-0376


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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