SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: May 12, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):New College of Florida

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 12, 2023, administrators at the New College of Florida informed visiting U.S. History professor Erik Wallenberg that the college had chosen not to renew his contract in apparent retaliation for remarks Wallenberg made during a media interview.

In a March 2023 op-ed in Teen Vogue, Professor Wallenberg, the only U.S. History professor at New College, expressed concern about the College’s new direction, in particular the appointment, by Governor Ron DeSantis, of administrators who were “vocal opponents of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and curricula that includes critical race theory (CRT) and gender studies.” During the interview, Wallenberg called New College trustee and conservative activist Christopher Rufo’s behavior towards students “demeaning and rude.” Rufo retaliated on Twitter, including highlighting that Wallenberg was a visiting professor and calling Wallenberg’s position “pure left-wing Mad Libs.” Following the interview, interim New College president Richard Corcoran made the decision not to renew Wallenberg’s contract. The decision contradicted the recommendation of the Social Studies Department, which had been supportive of Wallenberg’s reappointment.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the denial of an otherwise meritorious appointment to a professor in apparent retaliation for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom. University authorities have an obligation to refrain from retaliatory actions intended to punish, restrict, or chill the exercise of academic freedom – including public commentary on one’s own institution – and should employ transparent, fair processes when engaging in disciplinary actions. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, suspensions stemming from such activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

Sources:
https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/professor-axed-from-new-college-after-criticizing-desantis-17068528 
https://pen.org/press-release/decision-not-to-renew-lone-us-history-professors-contract-at-new-college-of-florida-in-effect-firing-him-is-an-affront-to-academic-freedom-says-pen-ameri/
https://www.teenvogue.com/story/new-college-of-florida-ron-desantis

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El 12 de mayo de 2023, los administradores del New College de Florida informaron al profesor visitante de Historia de EE.UU. Erik Wallenberg de que la universidad había decidido no renovar su contrato en aparente represalia por los comentarios que Wallenberg hizo durante una entrevista en los medios de comunicación.

En un artículo de opinión publicado en marzo de 2023 en Teen Vogue, el profesor Wallenberg, el único profesor de Historia de EE.UU. en el New College, expresó su preocupación por la nueva dirección de la universidad, en particular el nombramiento, por parte del gobernador Ron DeSantis, de los administradores que se oponían abiertamente a la diversidad, la equidad y los programas de inclusión, y los planes de estudio que incluyen la teoría crítica de la raza (CRT) y los estudios de género. Durante la entrevista, Wallenberg calificó de degradante y grosero el comportamiento del administrador del New College y activista conservador Christopher Rufos hacia los estudiantes. Rufo tomó represalias en Twitter, entre otras cosas destacando que Wallenberg era profesor visitante y calificando la postura de Wallenberg de puro Mad Libs izquierdista. Tras la entrevista, el presidente interino del New College, Richard Corcoran, tomó la decisión de no renovar el contrato de Wallenberg. La decisión contradecía la recomendación del Departamento de Estudios Sociales, que había apoyado el nuevo nombramiento de Wallenberg.

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a member of the Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA), and partners with CAFA on Americas-focused monitoring activities. Relevant incidents, with factual details translated into Spanish, appear on both SAR and CAFA websites.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) es una institución que integra la Coalición por la Libertad Académica en las Américas (CLAA). SAR trabaja junto con la CLAA en el monitoreo de situaciones en las Américas. Los incidentes relevantes que reportamos, con descripción de hechos detallados en español, aparecen tanto en los portales de SAR como de la CLAA.