Hopkins welcomes debate on academic freedom [Letter]

Johns Hopkins University student Bridget Kustin, reacting to the appointment of a new Task Force on Academic Freedom, challenged ("JHU's academic 'freedom,'" Feb. 25) certain events in the university's history and recent occurrences as they relate to academic freedom and other issues.

I welcome the challenge which was offered by Ms. Kustin in the spirit of the free and open debate that is the hallmark of scholarly life at Johns Hopkins and across academia. Hers is only one of what I hope will be many voices heard as the new task force works in coming months to codify in writing the principles of academic freedom that have guided Johns Hopkins from its founding.

Let there be no doubt: The long history of our university in the realm of academic freedom is not unblemished. As Provost Robert Lieberman and I said in our message to the university community announcing appointment of the task force, this is an issue that our university has wrestled with in its past.

Provost Lieberman and I launched the task force precisely because the interplay of freedom of expression and other values is exceedingly important but often difficult and challenging; it deserves dialogue and debate. We encourage every member of the Johns Hopkins University community to join the conversation in the coming months.

Ronald J. Daniels, Baltimore

The writer is president of The Johns Hopkins University.

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