When we first launched this blog, we hoped we might invite colleagues whom we admire and respect to contribute on occasion. We’re delighted to share with you today a guest essay by Michael J. Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke University. We invited him to write because we saw that Duke is doing some interesting programming to explore issues around freedom of speech and climate more thoughtfully, when the campus is not responding to an incident. Every campus is grappling with free expression issues in some fashion, and we thought colleagues might appreciate some perspective from Mike on this important topic.
Michael J. Schoenfeld
It is perhaps a great irony that one of the most difficult subjects for us to talk about is free speech, particularly the version that is the subject of attention on campus, in the media and across the internet. That colleges and universities, and the communicators at them, should have such a challenge conveying compelling messages about this fundamental standard is perhaps not surprising:
Activists on the right and left, and every point in between, have weaponized freedom of speech by staking out the most extreme positions, and painting any opposition to their position as wrong, dangerous and even evil. Continue reading →
In our work with higher education leaders, we help college presidents and other leaders identify compelling topics and make their voices heard through op-eds, speeches and written communications. Doing so benefits their institution, contributes to the sector, and can influence both policy and public opinion in powerful ways. And given the coarsened nature of our public dialogue, these carefully considered perspectives become even more important.
As we noted in our recent essay about trends for Inside Higher Ed, the past year saw a number of leaders speaking up strongly on relevant issues. We reviewed the past year’s worth of presidential communications, and we offer below those contributions we thought were among the most interesting and impactful.
Higher education leaders reacted swiftly to the display of racism, bigotry and hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. As a resource, we offer below a sampling of statements by presidents, chancellors and provosts.
Campus leaders are grappling with the effects of Trump’s immigration ban. Many are warning their students, staff and faculty about foreign travel and reinforcing their commitment to a global community of scholars. Here is a sampling of statements from higher education leaders: Continue reading →