In the space of just a few days, the University of Florida has attracted the attention of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes, NPR and a host of other national and international publications.
Has a UF professor finally won a Nobel Prize?
Did they develop a cure for cancer at UF Health?
Did the Gators finally win a Big Game?
No, no and no.
All of this newfound notoriety has arisen because of the University’s decision to prohibit three professors from testifying in voting rights litigation unless they do so on their own time, for free and without using university resources.
That last stipulation, by the way, raises a sticky point: How do professors go about amassing data and compiling research without using university resources?
Perhaps most damaging of all, on Monday UF received double-barrel attention from the most prestigious academic publication in America…the Chronicle Of Higher Education.
In the first article, the Chronicle notes that “The executive director of the American Association of University Professors tweeted that the university’s “attempt to muzzle these faculty members violates their academic freedom.”
This was accompanied by a scathing opinion piece written by Jeffrey C. Isaac, a professor of political science at Indiana University at Bloomington.
Isaac writes: “The words “chilling effect” hardly suffice. Carrying out this policy would entail a complete freezing of academic freedom, and the potential destruction of those disciplines that foster forms of knowledge that run afoul of Republican dogma.”
“This is terrible.”
“But even more terrible is the fact that this policy is being pioneered in one of the two states — the other is Texas — where statehouse Republicans are working with particular cynicism to undermine democracy, and where Republican governors are doing their damnedest to out-Trump Trump in preparation for a possible presidential run.”
Perhaps UF President Kent Fuchs is already eyeing his next career move: U.S. Sec. Of Education under a Ron DeSantis presidency, and is willing to do anything to achieve it: Including making the University of Florida a pariah in the American higher education community.
How humiliating for the Gator Nation.