Last week the Associated Press exposed emails written by former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels revealing his efforts to eliminate liberal historian Howard Zinn’s literature from K-12 public schools. Daniels has faced much controversy since his appointment as president of Purdue University earlier this year.
In the emails about Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, Daniels wrote that it “is the textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country. It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” Since the emails were revealed, Daniels has stood by his statements made about the liberal historian and his literature.
Now, 90 Purdue professors have responded to the three-year old emails by writing the new university president an open letter to express their discontent:
However much we disagree with your past statements, we are more troubled by the fact that you continue to express these views today, especially since you are now speaking as the chief representative of Purdue University with the responsibility to embody the best of academic inquiry and exchange.
In Daniels’ response to the faculty, he wrote,”I have never made any suggestion that any university cease teaching whatever its faculty pleases, or cease using any book.”
On this campus, all should be free to contend, with the beneficial consequences your letter discusses. I do respectfully disagree that Prof. Zinn’s work is as widely accepted or as mainstream as you portray it. By his own avowal, it expresses his biases in what it includes and just as notably in what it omits.
It is unfortunate that students and their families are forced to pay for classes and books filled with liberal propaganda–maybe that is part of the reason today’s graduates cannot find jobs.
There is finally a university president willing to take on liberal academia and provide a balanced education for students, yet these professors want to discredit his good intentions to further their own agendas. It might not occur to these 90 professors, but they are supposed to care about academic freedom as well. Any professor that is disturbed by a university president defending educational standards and academic freedom should think twice about their profession.
The professors stated that they were “troubled.” As a recent Purdue graduate, I too am “troubled” by the number of faculty members who co-signed such a self-serving letter.
Purdue University has been given the opportunity to experience real change — not Obama’s definition of change but one of actual substance. Under the leadership of Mitch Daniels, there is no doubt that Purdue will rise to become an even better university, but one thing is for sure: President Daniels has his work cut out for him. Good luck and boiler up!