The events of the last several days have thrust the University of Florida in the spotlight, and have, in some corners, called into question the commitment of the University to the principle of academic freedom and the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. The University’s administration has voiced its support for both, and has announced the upcoming formation of a task force to explore the issues surrounding conflict of interest that have brought us to the present moment. I look forward to participating in that process, and I am confident that we can arrive at solutions that respect both free speech and academic freedom.
In the College of Journalism and Communications, we teach the value and the imperative of free speech every day. It, along with freedom of the press and the other freedoms of the First Amendment, is at the core of what we do to prepare our students to become critical consumers of information, thoughtful producers of content, and independent monitors of power with a first responsibility to the people. We teach our students about best practices in ethical behavior, whether they are individual actors or representatives of corporations, non-profits, or agencies of government. There will be much said about the present moment, but our commitment to preparing our students with a firm foundation in free speech, and our commitment to the academic freedom that supports our teaching and research, will never change.
Dean and Professor
College of Journalism and Communications
University of Florida