Affirming Our Values

MICHAEL K. YOUNG
PRESIDENT

May 17, 2017

In recent days, there has been continued discourse related to a December 2012 podcast that resurfaced last week in social media and to my email that followed which I would like to address here.

I want to affirm my career-long, unwavering support for academic freedom, an essential element to enhance understanding and allow us to come to a closer approximation to the truth. Scholars have a responsibility to engage in deep dialogue and ask questions within their areas of expertise; however, through sound bites or social media headlines, profound issues can be oversimplified and distorted.

I know that, as scholars, we often find our comments misunderstood. With the resurfacing of this podcast in social media last week, the professor and podcast host alike reiterated to media that comments were in reference to a movie related to the professor’s scholarly work. It was not my intent to suggest otherwise nor to overlook the oppression that led to this kind of scholarship, only to reassure our community of that for which we stand as a university. For those of you who considered my comments disparaging to certain types of scholarly work or in any way impinging upon the centrality of academic freedom at this university, I regret any contributions that I may have made to misunderstandings in this case, including to those whose work is contextualized by understanding the historical perspectives of events that have often been ignored.

Furthermore, I do not promote what some headlines implied and stand firmly behind my comment that it is not within the values of our University to ever promote violence toward a group of people because of their race. Racism in any form is unacceptable.