Our Commitment to Academic FreedomGeneral (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III
August 2, 2023
Members of the Aggie Family,
Earlier today, I had a chance to conduct some of my first media interviews right from Texas A&M's living room – the Flag Room in the Memorial Student Center. One of the topics I addressed was the issue of academic freedom, which has received significant attention recently.
Concerns around this topic cut right to the heart of what a university does. Academic freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. The Supreme Court has consistently reinforced that academic freedom is a constitutional right.
At Texas A&M, we embrace academic freedom. I will defend our faculty's right to present information in the classroom they reasonably believe to be necessary and effective for student learning and success. I will also defend their right to select research topics and conduct research in a way that allows them to best inform, educate and inspire others. We must foster an academic community that engages in meaningful, respectful dialogue around controversial issues and competing ideas.
Recent events have raised concerns about the protections needed for faculty members in incidents when academic freedom is called into question. Therefore, I've directed the Office for Faculty Affairs to create a task force charged with reviewing existing policies and procedures regarding faculty protections in cases related to academic freedom, administrative suspension, directed leave, faculty investigations and similar issues. I'll share their recommendations when we have them.
Thanks for everything you do to make this university a great place to live, work and learn.
General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, Interim President