Commentary: In hit to academic freedom, Fourth Circuit holds public universities can punish faculty for ‘lack of collegiality’

July 07, 2023 1 min read

Alex Morey, Graham Piro and Talia Barnes
Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Note: This is another perspective on ‘Porter v. Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University.

Excerpt: The role of a faculty member at a college or university goes well beyond teaching and scholarship. As a function of “shared governance,” faculty play a critical role in leading an institution’s educational programming and initiatives. But yesterday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit leaves faculty vulnerable to discipline for criticism of their institutions outside of class if it involves academic initiatives impacting the institution beyond the faculty member’s personal field of research.

Per the troubling holding in Porter v. Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University, institutions can punish professors for sharing their views simply by declaring a dissenting or unpopular critic of institutional decisionmaking to be “uncollegial.”

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