New York Times
PROFESSORS ASSAIL NEARING
Academic Freedom Violated by University of Pennsylvania, Committee Finds.
REPORTS ON THREE CASES
"Danger" Seen in Discharge of Fisher of Wesleyan — Complaint by Brewster Not
The American Association of University Professors mad public yesterday the reports of those of its committees which have been investigating alleged interference with academic freedom. Three cases were reported on : Those of Professor Scott Nearing of the University of Pennsylvania, Professor James H. Brewster of the University of Colorado and Professor Willard C. Fisher of Wesleyan University, Connecticut. These three professors were dismissed because, so it was alleged, their opinions on public questions, expressed outside of their universities, were unpalatable to their superiors or to persons having influence with the latter.
The committees find that Professor Nearing’s dismissal was an infringement of academic freedom; that Professor Brewster’s was not; and that the method of Professor Fisher’s involved "dangers to academic freedom."
The only explicit reasons assigned by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania for dismissing Mr. Dearing were that "during the entire period of the few (i.e. nine) years in which he was connected with the university, his efforts — though doubtless perfectly sincere — were constantly and continuously misunderstood by the public and by many parents of students" and that his "methods, language and temperament" provoked "continued and widespread criticism alike from parents of students and from the general public, who knew him only by his public utterances."
On the grounds for Nearing’s dismissal, the committee finds as follows:
A. That the Board of Trustees, in the only statement which it has, as a body, given in explanation of its action of June 14, 1915, declares explicitly that its decision not to retain Dr. Nearing was made necessary by the criticisms of him, and the antagonistic attitude toward him of persons not members of the board, including persons who knew him only by his public (i.e. his extra-mural) utterances.
B. That much of this outside criticism and, in particular, the most weighty and important part of it — that which came before the board shortly before it June meeting with the official indorsement of the Alumni Committee of the Wharton School and the Directors of the General Society of Alumni, and with the published individual indorsement of one of the board’s own members — was unmistakably based upon objections to the character of Dr. Nearing’s social and economic teachings, or what the objectors supposed to be his teachings.
These tow facts alone would compel your committee to conclude that the action of the Board of Trustees, in relation to Dr Nearing, constituted an infringement of freedom of teaching in economics in that University.
Professor Brewster alleged that he had been dismissed by the University of Colorado because he had testified about the Colorado strike before the Commission on Industrial Relations. The committee found, however, that he lost his place merely because of a reorganization of the Law School, in which he taught, and that his appointment in the first place was only a temporary one, pending that reorganization.
The case of Professor Fisher was dismissed briefly, because his dismissal took place on Jan. 27, 1913, more than three years ago, and came late and only indirectly before the committee.