Elite University Prepares To Open Center Dedicated To Free Speech

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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The University of Chicago (UC) appears to be gearing up to launch a center dedicated to freedom of expression, a listing on a university job board shows.

UC listed an open position for an executive director over a month ago to oversee a new Center for Freedom of Expression, according to the post. The new center will expand the university’s “historic commitment and practice to provide a focal point for understanding and advancing free expression, in academia and the broader culture, in the United States and abroad” and “engage scholars, community leaders, public officials, and policy makers to better understand and advocate for the principles of free expression.” (RELATED: University Of North Carolina Threatened By Accreditor Over Planned ‘Free Speech’ School)

The university has not formally announced the program, according to the student newspaper The Chicago Maroon, but sources familiar with the matter told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the project is underway.

“We don’t have information to share at the moment,” Gerald McSwiggan, associate director for public affairs, told the DCNF on behalf of UC law professor Tom Ginsburg, who will allegedly chair the program. “We look forward to sharing additional details in the following months.”

Details about the center are being finalized in fall 2023, Dorian Abbot, an associate professor in the geophysical sciences department, told the DCNF.

“It will coordinate academic freedom orientation, lectures, and events,” he shared. “I am excited to participate!”

A Pedestrian walks through the Main Quadrangles (Quad) on the Hyde Park Campus of the University of Chicago on November 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

A Pedestrian walks through the Main Quadrangles (Quad) on the Hyde Park Campus of the University of Chicago on November 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The center will develop leaders who “champion” and “advance” free expression, adopt curricula that “promotes free expression” and serve as a model for other higher education institutions, according to the job listing. The center will also “enrich” students’ experience at UC by “modeling free expression and open inquiry” and “developing skills for meaningful and effective engagement.”

It will also conduct multidisciplinary research, the posting reads.

UC currently ranks as the best school for free speech by the watchdog group Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). The university cites free speech as a “core value” and is home of the original “Chicago Principle” which affirmed its “overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate” and has since been replicated by other universities, according to its website.

“FIRE is pleased to see the University of Chicago continuing to excel at promoting freedom of expression in higher education,” Mary Griffin, FIRE program officer, told the DCNF. “We are excited to see how the new Center for Freedom of Expression contributes to this legacy.”

UC did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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