ERIC Number: EJ808790
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Aug-1
Reference Count: N/A
When It Comes to Free Speech, Is a Professor Just Another Government Employee?
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n47 pA26 Aug 2008
A case pending in a federal court of appeals in California may clarify a surprisingly murky question: Do faculty members at public universities enjoy a special privilege to speak freely about institutional matters, or, as far as the First Amendment is concerned, are they just another category of government hirelings? Juan Hong, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of California at Irvine, sued the university after he was denied a merit salary increase in 2005. The denial was in retaliation, Hong alleges, for his history as a self-described "outspoken critic of university administrators on their mismanagement of their administrative responsibility." In one incident, Hong complained that too much teaching in his department was being done by lecturers rather than tenured professors. In another, he criticized his chair and dean for extending an informal employment offer to an assistant professor before a faculty vote. Hong also mounted campaigns accusing one colleague of a grant-related conflict of interest and another of misrepresenting his academic credentials. Hong claims that by denying him a raise, the university retaliated against him for exercising his free-speech rights. (The university says the decision was based on his research record.) In this article, the author discusses the implications for higher education of Hong's case.
Descriptors: Federal Courts, Constitutional Law, College Faculty, Public Colleges, Freedom of Speech, Status, Government Employees, Faculty College Relationship, Administrators
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment