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July 23, 2013

Purdue profs blast Daniels on academic freedom

(Continued)

“Go for it,” Daniels wrote. “Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don’t the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc.”

He has continued to defend his emails, issuing a statement last week reiterating his argument that Zinn’s work distorts history and quoting numerous scholars who also have spoken against it.

The 90 professors represent only about 5 percent of Purdue’s nearly 1,800 faculty members, but the letter was only circulated among liberal arts colleges. Purdue’s Board of Trustees, most of whose members were appointed by Daniels while he was governor, reaffirmed its support for him last week. The University Senate has not taken a position on the Zinn issue.

The former Indiana governor responded to their concerns Monday with many of the same arguments he made last week, saying his objections only dealt with K-12 schools.

“Protecting the educational standards of middle schoolers, to me an important duty of any governor, has nothing to do with protecting against encroachments of academic freedom in higher education, a similarly central duty of any university president. I have and will attend to the latter duty with the same resoluteness I tried to bring to the former,” Daniels wrote.

He also added a new charge, that Zinn undercut the foundation of scientific inquiry and research in an article titled “The Uses of Scholarship.”

Daniels has come under fire at Purdue before. Some faculty expressed skepticism last year that a non-academic would be an ardent supporter of higher education. But concerns had quieted down as Daniels met with faculty and listened to their concerns.

Kristina Bross, a Purdue English professor who coordinated the faculty response, said Daniels should publicly defend his claims about Zinn in a forum and called on him to explain to faculty how he came to his conclusions.

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