ACCFT solicits academic freedom award nominees

Submitted by John Creed
Phone: (907) 442-3400 ext. 117


The deadline for nominations is March 25, 2005.

These awards recognize organizations and/or individuals who have promoted the search for truth or have defended academic freedom, despite the consequences, in some significant way. Anyone is eligible for an ACCFT Champion of Academic Freedom award, including groups or individuals not affiliated with the University of Alaska. Recipients only have need demonstrated courage in seeking truth on behalf of the public good in the larger society, and they can herald from both the private and public sector. Each award includes a $500 cash prize, presented at an awards ceremony along with a commemorative plaque.

These awards honor annually the outstanding performance of up to three individuals, projects, and/or organizations for their contributions to the cause of Academic Freedom within the academic and/or professional community or the general public.

In 2004, ACCFT Champion of Academic Freedom awards went to Fairbanks author Dan O'Neill; UAF philosophy professor Norm Swazo; UAF's student newspaper, the Sun Star; UAF student journalists Sharice Walker and Tom Delaune; and Sun Star advisor and journalism assistant professor Brian O'Donoghue.

Please send nominations to: Chair, ACCFT Academic Freedom Committee, 3211 Providence Dr. PSB 214, Anchorage, AK 99508. (907) 562-2660.

Purpose The democratic way of life depends for its very existence upon the free contest and examination of ideas. Within that context, academic freedom speaks profoundly to the unique role of universities as the world's "free marketplace of ideas."

At the University of Alaska, faculty members, as well as all associated with or who come in contact with the university, including staff, students and others, must be free to speak, publish, associate, act, research, create, teach, counsel, design curricula, and oversee libraries in the pursuit of truth.

Academic Freedom goes beyond Constitutional guarantees associated with free speech and rights of association. Academic Freedom includes the ability to speak freely, not merely the right to do so. The ability is protected by such things as tenure, adequate compensation, sufficient resources to explore new ideas, and an atmosphere that promotes intellectual challenge.

The university’s role in protecting academic freedom for all must be regularly reinforced through the recognition of those who have significantly advanced the cause of academic freedom. The ACCFT Academic Freedom Awards are given annually to recognize and honor those who have distinguished themselves in promoting and defending the principles of academic freedom through its advocacy and in its defense.

Eligibility Candidates for?"-and ultimately the recipients of?"-these awards can hail from any sector of society. Honorees must have engaged themselves in the cause of academic freedom in the face of, say, public pressure or some other personal challenge, such as an unpopular or minority idea or opinion demonstrating courage, defense of controversial issues or materials, censorship, infringement from expression, and so forth?"all in the search for truth. Honorees will have advocated and promoted the cause of academic freedom in some significant way. The activities must be verifiable.

Nominations should include supporting documentation (including any kind of publication or other communication such as journalistic writing, artistic expression, legal writings, and so forth), although just one letter of support or other pieces of documentation can be sufficient. Information should explain the nominee’s worthiness for an award. The criteria for the ACCFT Academic Freedom Award must, by necessity, remain broad, as long as the nominee demonstrates extraordinary will, character, courage, intelligence and integrity in the defense of academic freedom.

No awards may be given, and up to three awards may be granted annually, upon the sole and final judgment of the ACCFT Executive Board. ACCFT represents more than 300 faculty members throughout Alaska on all University of Alaska campuses statewide.