Panel discussion examines academic freedom, activism at UF

Published: January 22 2013

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A five-part public discussion series at the University of Florida titled “Humanizing Conversations at UF” opens Monday with a panel discussion of the history of academic freedom and activism at UF from the late 1960s to the present. The roundtable will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Smathers Library East, Room 1A.

Organized by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, this first panel draws on local and outside experts to measure the impact of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the Johns Committee and other critical events that affected national consciousness and activism at UF.

Led by a moderator, the four participants will discuss the relationship of involvement in political causes to student and faculty freedom of expression on and off campus. The panel will also discuss the historical outcomes of political activism on the creation of graduate student and faculty unions, the ability of faculty to earn tenure successfully, the viability of a student-led campus newspaper that sought to report on sensitive issues, and the quality of daily life in Gainesville.

The panel will be moderated by UF professor of English Malini Schueller. Panel participants will be: Michael Falcone, a doctoral student at Northwestern University; professor Deeb Paul Kitchen II, a faculty member at Florida Gulf Coast University; UF history professor Paul Ortiz, also director of the Samuel Procter Oral History Program at UF; and Ron Sachs, founder of Ron Sachs Communications in Tallahassee and a former editor of the Independent Florida Alligator newspaper. Their prepared remarks will be followed by question-and-answer and general discussion led by Schueller.

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act’s creation of land-grant universities, this panel is one of five events during spring 2013 that will bring important issues raised by the center’s previous 18-month series “Rehumanizing the University: New Perspectives on the Liberal Arts,” to bear on understanding the historical and contemporary context of student, faculty, and public life at the University of Florida.

The center invites UF faculty, staff, students, and members of the public to join in this series, which will also include panel discussions about racial, gender and ethnic integration; sexual freedom; dialogues between sciences and humanities; and the impact of market forces at UF.
Speakers will address how these sensitive issues affect the daily lives of students and faculty at the University of Florida (and the public of North Florida more generally), and will help members of the community come to a better understanding of how UF came to its current form and where it might move in the future.

All events are free and open to all and include time afterward for questions or discussion. Refreshments will be served. For more information on these and future talks, visit

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories