ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

  • Heroes of Intellectual Freedom

    Too often, the college campus is an echo chamber, in which only opinions that align with a majority viewpoint are heard and discussed. ACTA’s Heroes of Intellectual Freedom initiative honors those citizens of the academic community who protect and foster the diversity of viewpoints that is the lifeblood of liberal education. In 1859, John Stuart Mill admonished, “Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action.” We need, more than ever, the campus heroes who will ensure that higher education is a sanctuary for the unfettered freedom to question and debate, and thereby ensure human progress and human flourishing.

    • Samuel Abrams Professor of Politics at Sarah Lawrence College

      In October 2018, Samuel Abrams published an editorial in The New York Times titled “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators?” The piece commented on a perceived ideological imbalance within his college’s leadership, and called for greater viewpoint diversity. Following the piece, students have vandalized his property and called for his dismissal. Despite receiving the ire of some students, professor Abrams continues to advocate for academic freedom and remains committed to his pedagogical aims.

      To listen to an episode of ACTA's podcast, Higher Ed Now, with Professor Abrams, click here >> 

    • Luana Maroja Associate Professor of Biology at Williams College

      Professor Maroja joined a faculty initiative in fall 2018 to endorse the Chicago Principles at Williams College, and bravely recounted her experiences in an online article titled “Freedom of Speech at Williams College: Are the Walls Closing In?” During a faculty meeting about freedom of expression, students burst in carrying signs that said “free speech harms” and demanded that white, male professors sit down and “acknowledge their privilege.” Professor Maroja tried to reason with the students. In the article, she shared that as a Hispanic woman, she has experienced prejudice, but feels that freedom of expression is essential to the academic experience. Having grown up in Brazil under a dictatorship, she explained that she understands the grave consequences of censorship, and that it has no place at Williams College. She is committed to her role as an educator and continues to advocate for academic freedom, writing an excellent piece in The Atlantic "Self-censorship on Campus Is Bad for Science." 

    • Martha Pollack President of Cornell University

      Martha Pollack began her presidency at Cornell University in spring 2017 after seventeen years at University of Michigan. Since the moment that President Pollack took office, she has been an outspoken supporter of free expression. In her first interview with the student paper, she re-affirmed the importance of academic freedom. President Pollack has invited fellow free speech advocates, including Nadine Strossen, to speak on the topic. She also spoke out urging faculty to take more intellectual risks, and not to worry about reprimand. As far too many professors fail to speak out due to fear of punishment, it is encouraging to see that Cornell’s leader supports them.

    • Melvin Oliver President of Pitzer College

      Prior to joining Pitzer College, Melvin Oliver served as executive dean at University of California—Santa Barbara’s College of Letters and Science and was a professor of sociology at University of California—Los Angeles. During the 2018-2019 academic year, Pitzer’s faculty voted to end the college’s study abroad program in Haifa, Israel as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. President Oliver earned the praise of academic freedom advocates by swiftly vetoing this proposal, citing the academic and religious freedom of students that wish to study in Israel. After the faculty vote failed, the College Council, composed of students, faculty, and staff, again voted to end Pitzer’s program in Haifa. President Oliver again decided not to implement this recommendation, and wrote a thoughtful and respectful piece articulating his view.

    • Christina Paxson President of Brown University

      Christina Paxson assumed the role of president at Brown University in 2012. Prior to that, she served as a professor of economics and public policy. President Paxson has been vocal concerning issues of academic freedom during her tenure as president. She was put to the test, however, when Brown’s student council voted that the University should divest from companies that operate in Israel. The University was in no way obligated to implement the students’ recommendation nor respond to it, but President Paxson chose to explain why she would not be divesting from Israel.