Press Releases | Freedom of Expression

The Honorable José A. Cabranes Announced as Winner of 2019 Merrill Award

June 6, 2019 by ACTA

WASHINGTON, DCThe American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is proud to announce that Judge Cabranes will receive the 2019 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education at ACTA’s annual ATHENA conference. Named for the late educator and public servant, Phillip Merrill, this honor is bestowed annually to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of liberal education.

With decades of experience as a federal judge and time spent as a trustee of Yale, Columbia, and Colgate universities, Judge Cabranes comprehends that the decay of academic freedom and freedom of expression are not limited to the American college campus, but have affected our entire society. In an article published by the Washington Post on January 10, 2017 Judge Cabranes asserted “Our universities today must pay more than lip service to free expression. They must develop and maintain procedures that protect professors’ ability to teach and learn without fear of retaliation. While political alignments may have flipped, the choice remains the same: academic freedom or civilizational decline.”

As the first Puerto Rican appointed to the federal bench in the continental United States, Judge Cabranes has made it his life’s mission to protect and uphold the most important liberties to a free society. “Judge Cabranes has been a stalwart defender of campus freedom of speech and an eloquent advocate for rigorous study of the liberal arts.  He exemplifies the values of heart and mind that the Merrill Award honors and celebrates.” With the enthusiastic recommendation of ACTA’s Merrill Selection Committee we are honored to bestow this award on Judge José Cabranes.

MEDIA CONTACT: Connor Murnane
PHONE: (202) 798-5450


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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