President David Adamany last Tuesday sent a valentine to conservative activist and higher education reformer David Horowitz. It wasn’t a white teddy bear with outstretched arms or a heart-shaped box of dark chocolate candies. It was a conversation heart.
But in true Adamany fashion, the president bypassed a simple “Will U B Mine” message for a 186-word letter to the editor, printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
At first, it seemed like love was in the air. Adamany began his letter by agreeing with part of Horowitz’s Feb. 7 op/ed, also printed in the Inquirer, which discussed a resolution passed by the state House that formed the Select Committee on Academic Freedom in Higher Education.
The legislative panel visited Main Campus during holiday break to conduct two days of testimony about academic freedom. It was the second stop on a statewide tour (the University of Pittsburgh was the first) by lawmakers who must decide by November if any legislation is necessary to combat claims of biased teaching methods.
Adamany led the hearings by repeatedly defending the professionalism of the university’s professors, testifying that in more than five years as president he has never received a single grievance from a student. Horowitz finished the testimony by assailing Temple, and just about every other university, by saying that academia is rife with liberal professors bent on indoctrinating their students.
Back to the letter: Adamany said he agreed that Temple “was a fitting location for a Pennsylvania legislative hearing about whether students are free from inappropriate policies bias in college classrooms.” After all, Temple is partly funded by state tax dollars, he said, and “we have nothing to hide.”
After again mentioning that he hasn’t received a single student complaint about biased teaching, Adamany unloaded a massive statistic that wasn’t discussed during the hearings. “In 94 percent of 243,340 anonymous surveys of virtually every Temple course in 2004-05, students said that they found a classroom atmosphere in which they felt free to ask questions and express their opinions.”
Yet again, Adamany shoots an arrow through Horowitz’s claim that our university’s professors routinely violate academic freedom policies. Adamany did concede in his letter, as he did during testimony, that Temple could do a better job of notifying students of what exactly the university’s grievance procedures are.
But the bottom line, Adamany wrote in his Valentine’s Day letter: Horowitz “imagines that he smells smoke, but there is no fire.”
That’s too bad for Horowitz, who surely wants to keep the flame of unnecessary reform burning red hot.