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University Relations

Volume 50, Issue 2

October 10, 2008

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

I write to you today amid national media reports of threatening speech on campuses across the nation, my concern for our own campus, and the UCCS values of community and inclusiveness.

Our rise to the position of excellence as a regional comprehensive research university in the nation will depend on the security of our faculty, students and staff to ask hard questions of each other, investigate sensitive matters, and to debate the issues that shape our times and future. At the same time, we will fail in our responsibility to create a supportive community of learners if we allow the human dignity of any of our members to be denied or challenged. We seek to broaden our discussions, enable free inquiry, and encourage innovative thought while ensuring that discriminatory, bigoted or intolerant remarks are not part of our conversation.

We have in place, and will continue to support, a broad array of services and support systems that foster our environment of free, responsible discourse. At the same time, we must be vigilant to maintain our climate of respect for differences.

Universities have historically provided the safe haven for lively debate during times of national or international conflict. These boundaries have been frequently tested—and occasionally broken—in the passionate pursuit of specific ideas. Germany in 1933 and the McCarthy-era lists of Communist sympathizers are only two significant examples of where boundaries have been broken. These were dark times in our nation’s history. More recently, individuals have used the power of the Internet and other means to label professors and students and to subject them to unwarranted harassment. We must set a higher standard.

I am reminded of the roots of the academy on the eve of the national elections. The national elections, as well as state elections and decisions about various amendments to the Colorado Constitution, evoke strong emotions. Campus issues and perspectives also highlight differences and similarities among our community. Inclusiveness and respect remain our core values and should guide our behavior. Campus leadership is committed to building a campus that provides a safe and inclusive environment.

In the weeks to come, I want to encourage you to commit to the traditions of the academy, to inclusiveness, respect, and civil discourse. I want to encourage passion—which I believe is a form of engagement—while ensuring we remain true to the principles of fairness to all, respect for differences, recognition that opinions may be different from our own and, most importantly, to a civil discussion of the issues and differences. How we demonstrate these principles is an individual’s choice. It is also our responsibility.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents declares the University of Colorado was created and is maintained to afford men and women a liberal education in the several branches of literature, arts, sciences, and the professions. These aims can be achieved only in that atmosphere of free inquiry and discussion, which has become a tradition of universities and is called "academic freedom." (Laws of the Regents 5.D.1).

I am confident that as citizens of a campus community we will demonstrate the qualities of fairness and respect for differences while adhering to the principles of civil discourse. Our university will embrace that tradition. It is imperative that our faculty, staff and students demonstrate that inquiry linked to civility leads to an unsurpassed depth of understanding.

Respectfully,

Pam Shockley-Zalabak
Chancellor



Memorandum of Understanding on Academic Freedom
http://web.uccs.edu/chancellor/newsite/memo.htm

Laws of the Regents on Academic Freedom
https://www.cu.edu/regents/Laws/Article5D.htm

Fair Campaign Practices Act
https://www.cu.edu/content/fair-campaign-practices-act

 

“We seek to broaden our discussions, enable free inquiry, and encourage innovative thought while ensuring that discriminatory, bigoted or intolerant remarks are not part of our conversation”

 

 

“...we will demonstrate the qualities of fairness and respect for differences while adhering to the principles of civil discourse.”

 

 

 


Communique is the online newsletter for UCCS faculty and staff. It is published weekly during the fall and spring semesters, monthly during the summer semester. Communique is sent to faculty and staff e-mail lists and, by request, to other e-mail addresses. Previous issues are available in the Communique Archives at www.uccs.edu/ur/communique/archives.html, and the current issue is always at www.uccs.edu/ur/communique. Suggestions and comments are welcome. Send ideas to ur@uccs.edu or call Tom Hutton, 262-3439.

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