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Academic Freedom in Nebraska

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On Saturday, November 14, I had the privilege of listening to Bill Ayers in Omaha at the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska (AFCON) Banquet.  He spoke eloquently about the importance of Academic Freedom, about the freedom to express and exchange ideas.  

Bill Ayers is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Illinois at Chicago.  But maybe you remember that last year as the presidential election heated up, Sarah Palin called him out as one of Obama's "terrorist friends." This sudden media attention (and revisiting of Ayers' former days of involvement opposing the Vietnam War, namely his connection to the Weather Underground) caused an uproar right here at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).   UNL had booked Ayers the previous year to come and speak to the faculty and students on the topic of education.  But because of the media hype, suddenly Dr. Ayers became "Professor Non Grata" and he was disinvited.  

Faculty and students protested.  Professors Chris Gallagher, Julia Schleck, Steve Ramsay, myself and graduate students Mike Kelly and many many others helped to organize a teach-in regarding Academic Freedom and also wrote a letter explaining how Ayers' disinvitation was a breach of Academic Freedom.  

We still hope that Professor Ayers will return to UNL to give that talk on education.  

Photograph below:  Amelia Montes, Bill Ayers, Julia Schleck, Mike Kelly, Steve Ramsay

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