Academic Freedom and Professional Standards
Matthew W. Finkin starts from the position, following the “1915 Declaration,” that “academic freedom is a professional liberty in the exercise of which the faculty member is required to observe a professional standard of care.” He then discusses and responds to criticism of this view and illustrates his position through a careful examination of, and commentary on, the controversial case of Ward Churchill, a tenured professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado. Following a public furor over an essay Churchill wrote in the aftermath of September 11 that referred to the victims of the World Trade Center bombings as “little Eichmanns,” the university launched an investigation, in the course of which allegations of research misconduct arose, and for those Churchill was fired.
Matthew W. Finkin
MATTHEW W. FINKIN is the Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law at the University of Illinois. He is the author or editor, singly or in collaboration, of nine books, including For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom (with Robert Post), The Case for Tenure, Privacy in Employment Law, and the last five editions of Labor Law (with the late Archibald Cox, Derek Bok, and Robert Gorman). His awards include the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Research Prize for “internationally acknowledge achievements in labor law” and honorary doctorates from the University of Trier and the University of Athens. He is the joint editor of the Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal and also serves on the editorial boards of the Bureau of National Affairs book series, International Labor and Employment Laws, and periodicals, the Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal, the European Labour Law Journal, and the Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Arbeits- und Sozialrecht. For over four decades, he has been active in the American Association of University Professors, including service as general counsel, hair of its Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and on numerous committees.