University of California president Mark Yudof appeared at the Chico Chamber of Commerce this Tuesday to hold a press conference and promote the University. He spoke to a group of businesspeople and the press concerning the "top ten myths" about UC. At the end of his talk was a question and answer time. Charles Geshekter, chairman of the California Association of Scholars and one of the authors of the new report A Crisis of Competence, asked President Yudof to describe what he sees as the difference between freedom of speech and academic freedom.
The Oroville Mercury-Register published an account of this exchange in "UC President: Faculty Should Educate, Not Proselytize." Though Yudof was dismissive of the report's claim that politicization in the classroom is linked to academic decline, he agreed that ideological bias is a problem. According to the Mercury-Register:
Yudof said there is some truth in the charge of faculty proselytizing. He said he doesn't want to see classes "politicized."
"Professors are there to educate — not to rouse the troops for a cause," he said. They should not put on their websites that everyone should be pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, for example.
The problem of inappropriate political advocacy by faculty aggravates him, Yudof said. But it's difficult to do much about it, he added.
Dr. Geshekter commended the UC president on his articulate answer and asked him to support it:
Geshekter told Yudof he was pleased to hear that he recognized the problem. He asked the president if he couldn't send a memo to all the UC campus chancellors condemning inappropriate political advocacy.
"I could do that," Yudof said. "I don't know that it would do much good."