Professor's Academic Freedom Was Violated, UC Davis Faculty Leaders Say

Ann McClure's picture

UC Davis faculty leaders have declared that medical school administrators there violated the academic freedom of a professor who published a 2010 opinion article criticizing a campus event promoting prostate cancer screening.

In a unanimous vote, the faculty Senate's Representative Assembly admonished administrators for threatening cuts in title and funding and possible legal action against medical professor Michael Wilkes after his piece appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. The faculty governing panel last week also called for medical school leaders to apologize and "take concrete steps to prevent future violations of rights of academic freedom."

Although disciplinary action was not carried out against Wilkes, raising that possibility violated his rights, according to microbiologist Linda Bisson, who chairs the UC Davis faculty Senate. "It's not a gray area or even a little cloudy. This is a textbook example of what is protected in academic freedom," Bisson said Wednesday.

The next step is up to campus Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, who in consultation with Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is expected to decide by fall whether to impose any discipline on the medical school executives, campus officials said.

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