For American higher education, 2019 was a year of transformation. Following the campus unraveling during the two years after the 2016 presidential election, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) found more concerned citizens, lawmakers, and professors willing to take steps to secure academic and intellectual freedom at universities. The freedom to learn is making a comeback.
Over the last year, campus free speech bills sprouted up in statehouses across the nation with the help of NAS. These bills will do away with illiberal free speech zones and protect the speech of students and professors alike. We stood up for writers and academics, such as Professors Colleen A. Sheehan and James Matthew Wilson, who dared speak out against new mandatory assessments on sensitivity and bias. An open letter in support of a speaker disinvited from the Army War College attracted over five thousand signatures and reinstated his invitation.
In 2019, NAS published Separate but Equal, Again, an in-depth report studying the history of racial segregation on campus. We published the eighth edition of our annual report on college common reading programs, Beach Books. In December, we released Social Justice Education in America, detailing how over sixty colleges and universities use classes, distribution requirements, and administrative bureaucracies to impose social justice education. We partnered with the James G. Martin Center, First Things magazine, and Hillsdale College for events launching our reports.
NAS launched new branding and a new website. We increased our membership. We hired new staff to lead projects on Title IX, scientific reproducibility and regulation, and the student debt crisis. We published articles with the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, The Spectator, National Review, and the Claremont Review of Books.
I am deeply grateful for the people, foundations, and partner organizations that make this work possible. Thank you for your support. With your continued help, we will continue to build a movement of those who believe intellectual freedom and reasoned scholarship are the foundations of a free society.
Peter W. Wood