University of Texas dean issues strong statement on academic freedom and free speech

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Last week, I blogged about how a group of activists led by a University of Texas law student disrupted a guest lecture by Gil-Li Vardi, hosted by Professor Ami Pedahzur of UT's Institute for Israeli Studies. I noted a wishy-washy response by Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

I'm pleased to note (h/t Legal Insurrection) that on Monday Dean Diehl issued a strong statement defending Pedahzur and the Institute for Israel Studies and noting that "disruption of a visiting scholar's invited academic lecture violates academic freed and free speech"

Amidst the current controversy concerning the disruption of an academic lecture sponsored by the Institute for Israel Studies, I want to reiterate my deep admiration for the work of Professor Ami Pedahzur and the Institute for Israel Studies in conducting courses and public programming that represent the highest standard of academic discourse and dispassionate reasoning and research on a controversial subject of enormous importance. Students and faculty of every background, including Palestinians and Israelis alike, have enthusiastically received Prof. Pedahzur's courses and his supervision of undergraduate and graduate research.

Although reviews are still ongoing, I wish to emphasize that there are places on campus for responsibly discussing disagreements. Disruption of a visiting scholar's invited academic lecture violates principles of academic freedom and free speech that are crucial to our mission as a great university.

Randy L. Diehl
Dean