Dear Miami Hurricane Editor and UM Students,
Your professors welcome you back to the Fall 2020 semester. Our hopes for this semester are as high as yours. We want you to learn and grow, as much as possible, while also being safe. For those reasons, almost 600 of us have asked for the university administration to uphold a cornerstone of American university life: academic freedom.
We believe dedicated professors should decide the best way to deliver the course content in their field. Most of us studied for many years to become experts in our different disciplines. Others were successful professionals in industry who have made the decision to become teachers. All of us have specialized knowledge that we revere and we are dedicated to sharing with you in the best environment possible.
Academic freedom is about realizing that expertise resides with teachers and their peers, and is different from discipline to discipline. It means that someone from another discipline, even if in an administrative position of power, can’t override our professional judgment and expertise in the classroom or in research. Academic freedom is also something that makes the university a special place for you, because it helps to ensure the classroom becomes a space for the fearless testing of assertion with fact, logic, and experience from multiple perspectives, all grounded in a philosophy that dedication to a free exchange of ideas will lead to better understanding and a closer approximation of truth.
Unfortunately, many of us have not had the freedom to decide how our courses should be taught this semester because the mode of delivery is being imposed without regard for the expertise of the professors of record. That’s a problem because not every course or discipline is the same.
We invite you to read more about our beliefs as your teachers, talk about it with your classmates and consider what we are asking. We hope you will support our request for the university to respect our professionalism and dedication to you, and to allow us -within the parameters for safety set by the administration- to decide the best way to teach you during this health crisis.
A statement approved by the members of the UM Chapter of the American Association of University Professors is here for you to review.
UM Professors with the University of Miami AAUP–University Employee Alliance, a chapter of the American Association of University Professors