President and Provost: Statement on Free Expression at the University of Chicago

January 6, 2015

To:  All Faculty, Students, and Staff Members
From:  Robert J. Zimmer, President, and Eric D. Isaacs, Provost
Subject:  Statement on Free Expression at the University of Chicago
Date:  January 6, 2015

Earlier this academic year, as many of you know, we convened a committee of faculty members from across the University and charged it with crafting a statement “articulating the University’s overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation among all members of the University’s community.” We believe that the free expression of ideas is central to the University’s fundamental commitment to rigorous inquiry at the highest levels, and that the University needed a formal statement articulating our support of this principle.

Over the past six months, this Committee on Free Expression at the University of Chicago, chaired by Geoffrey Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, has met with a number of faculty, student, and staff groups and solicited and received input from across campus.

The committee has crafted a powerful statement on this important topic that we believe is consistent with the tradition and values of the University. The committee’s report and statement can be found at We encourage every member of the University community to read the committee’s statement in full.

As we said in our campus message in September, we expect this statement to begin a campus-wide dialogue about the role of free expression at the University. Over the upcoming weeks, members of the committee will meet with groups across campus to discuss the statement. In February there will be a public program for faculty, students, and staff to hear from the committee and discuss the statement and its implications.

We thank the committee members for their thorough and thoughtful work, and we thank all of you who worked with the committee to shape this important statement. We look forward to continued discussion on this topic this year and in the future.

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