Statement at January 2024 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

Good afternoon. I’d like to thank all of you for coming together for this special meeting of our Board of Regents. I wish I could be there in person, but am at a meeting in D.C. 

We’ve come together for the purpose of adopting the University of Michigan’s Principles on Diversity of Thought and Freedom of Expression. 

We’ve been engaged in this effort for some time, and I’d like to thank all of you who have contributed to our deliberation, especially Tim Lynch who has served an absolutely essential role in bringing this statement to fruition. 

No matter the tumult over the issues of the day, it is vital that we remain fully committed to freedom of speech and diversity of thought as a university. 

Open inquiry and spirited debate are critical for promoting discovery and creativity, for creating and advancing knowledge, and for preparing our students to be informed and actively engaged in our democracy. 

At this time of great division, it is more important than ever that we come together in a shared commitment to pluralism, to mutual respect and to freedom of speech and diversity of thought at this great public university. 

For our next steps, I have asked Tim to convene a committee of our staff, students and faculty, charged with providing guidance on:

  • Whether our university is living up to these principles; 
  • Actions the university can take to bring us closer to the aspirations embodied in these principles; and 
  • Whether the university should adopt some form of the University of Chicago’s Kalven Principles, which establish “A heavy presumption against the university … expressing opinions on the political and social issues of the day … ”