WASHINGTON, DC – Dr. Joshua Katz, Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics at Princeton University, will be recognized as one of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s (ACTA) 2020 Heroes of Intellectual Freedom.
On July 8, Dr. Katz published “A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor” in Quillette, challenging a recent open letter signed by hundreds of Princeton faculty concerning race and preferential treatment on campus. Dr. Katz warned of the dangerous implications that the letter’s policy “recommendations”—such as a committee to examine faculty research for racial bias—would have for academic freedom on campus. He wrote, “There are dozens of proposals that, if implemented, would lead to civil war on campus and erode even further public confidence in how elite institutions of higher education operate.”
The campus newspaper, the Daily Princetonian, and Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber were quick to condemn Dr. Katz’s article. “While free speech permits students and faculty to make arguments that are bold, provocative, or even offensive, we all have an obligation to exercise that right responsibly,” President Eisgruber remarked in a statement to the Daily Princetonian. “Joshua Katz has failed to do so.”
ACTA responded forcefully in a Forbes article titled “Princeton Grapples With Race, Woodrow Wilson’s Controversial Past, And A Professor’s Dissent.”
“ACTA is proud to honor the campus heroes who pull our colleges and universities back to the unfettered freedom of thought that is the lifeblood of a traditional liberal arts education,” said Dr. Michael Poliakoff, president of ACTA. “America’s institutions of higher education would be better served if they had more scholars who are willing to voice their opposition to the social orthodoxy that dominates the academy.”
Free expression is under assault on campuses across the nation, and university leadership is often reluctant to resist demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings, and censorship of “offensive” views. ACTA launched its Heroes of Intellectual Freedom initiative in 2019 to recognize principled individuals who protect and foster a diversity of viewpoints. Last year, ACTA honored five Heroes of Intellectual Freedom: Martha Pollack, president of Cornell University; Christina Paxson, president of Brown University; Melvin Oliver, president of Pitzer College; Samuel Abrams, professor at Sarah Lawrence College; and Luana Maroja, professor at Williams College. Professor Katz joins Dr. Abigail Thompson, chair of the mathematics department at the University of California–Davis, as ACTA’s 2020 distinguished Heroes of Intellectual Freedom.
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