A national group has suggested that a formal review of a University of New Hampshire professor’s teaching is necessary, including his views that government officials orchestrated the Sept.11, 2001 attacks.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, in a Sept. 1 letter to the chairman of UNH’s board of trustees, suggested that “a formal investigation is necessary” into William Woodward.
Faculty bear primary responsibility for maintaining professional standards, and in exchange, the public grants institutions the independence that allows faculties to support those standards as they see fit, wrote Anne Neal, president of the Washington-based education policy group.
“When, however–as in Professor Woodward’s case–there is prima facie evidence that a faculty member may not be abiding by professional standards or may be putting personal, social, or political agendas ahead of a fundamental commitment to the objective search for the truth, then a full and formal review is salutary,” the letter said. “This is because academic freedom does not mean anything goes.”
Woodward, a tenured psychology professor at UNH, belongs to Scholars for 9/11 Truth, whose members believe that Bush administration officials either planned the attacks or knew about them and allowed them to happen in order to get public opinion behind their policies.
Gov. John Lynch has called Woodward’s beliefs “completely crazy and offensive” and asked the university system’s trustees to investigate Woodward’s teaching practices. Lynch headed the board before he was elected governor in 2004.
UNH Provost Bruce Mallory said no students have complained about Woodward’s presentation of his opinions, and that after reviewing course materials and student evaluations, he is persuaded that Woodward did not impose his opinions on students. Mallory also said the material was presented in a way that was relevant to the courses Woodward taught.
But University Chancellor Stephen Reno said the board of trustees still may ask for a formal review.