Jun 18, 2010

Local University President is Recognized for Contributions to 'Academic Freedom'

As this year’s graduation season draws to a close, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is recognizing commencement remarks given by Trinity Washington University president Patricia McGuire by awarding her the prestigious Alexander Meiklejohn Award for Academic Freedom.

This award is given to an American college or university administrator in recognition of an outstanding contribution to academic freedom. President McGuire was selected for her 2009 remarks at Trinity, in which she denounced the “religious vigilantism” of those who opposed President Barack Obama’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame.

In the citation for the award, the AAUP noted that “President McGuire called the pressure against Notre Dame ‘one of the angriest and most aggressively hostile efforts to block a commencement speaker ever endured by any American university.’” In her remarks, President McGuire challenged graduates to “engage with our culture, not shun it” and suggested that “Catholic universities must have the same high intellectual standards as all universities, nurturing academic freedom as the bedrock of excellence in scholarship and teaching.”

The AAUP citation recognizes President McGuire’s commitment to academic freedom by “speaking out on topics other college presidents will not touch.” It goes on to say, “[President McGuire’s] passion for justice, for the salutary benefits of open and rigorous debate, for what is simply right did not allow her to keep silent. Her voice has provided inspiration, encouragement and guidance to the leaders of Catholic colleges and universities across the country.”

Heading toward her 22nd year as president of Trinity Washington University, Pat McGuire is credited for “saving” the school by rebuilding the Catholic women’s college into a well-regarded university with particular success in reaching out to local Black and Hispanic students. She is an active voice in the community and it’s no surprise that her commencement remarks were targeted to questions of justice and freedom. They were adapted into an op-ed entitled, “The Real Scandal at Notre Dame,” published by Inside Higher Ed.

The AAUP’s Alexander Meikeljohn award was established in 1957 and was last awarded in 2003 to Molly Broad, then president of the University of North Carolina.

No comments:

Post a Comment