Carnegie Mellon University

The Commission on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression

"Now more than ever, there exists a rising tension between our commitment to safeguard freedom of expression and our commitment to promote an inclusive and nurturing learning environment for all."

Farnam Jahanian, President

Charges to the Commission

There are five charges to The Commission on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression:

  1. Create forums through which students, faculty and staff can discuss and explore the meaning and inherent value of both freedom of expression and academic freedom, including how they are distinct and the ways in which they collectively support our academic mission;
  2. Engage the campus community in discussion about the rising tension between upholding freedom of expression and supporting a campus environment that is inclusive and respectful. After conducting such community discussions, provide the commission’s recommendations on how the university can promote civil discourse and manage situations when these core values come into conflict, including how these considerations may affect the university’s Freedom of Expression policy.
  3. Explore how academic freedom as well as professional codes of conduct pertain to the expression of opinions in both professional and private capacities, with a particular focus on the contemporary context of social media and internet communication. In doing so, evaluate the current language in CMU’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, which specifically states that it is applicable to “individuals who are paid by the University when they are working for the University, including faculty, staff and students when working for the University."
  4. In addition to considering these macro issues, determine how they apply to the following questions related to university policies and practices: 
    • Does our current practice of affording wide discretion to the heads of departments, centers and institutes to make appointments for positions such as fellows, artists-in-residence, entrepreneurs-in-residence, visiting faculty, professors of the practice and the like, without further substantive review, serve the university well, or should additional levels of review be required, and if so in what circumstances?
    • Should there be an additional process established when considering the hire of a highly visible public figure, while ensuring that any such process should avoid including any type of political or ideological litmus test?
  5. Share updates with the campus community on the progress of this commission as its work unfolds, as well as provide an interim report by the end of June 2021.

The Commission on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression Speaker Series

Stay tuned for additional announcements about upcoming event series that will include additional speakers from other viewpoints, case study discussions, panels and other community forums.

If you have ideas for speakers or community engagement formats, please email them to

Please be advised that while these discussions are situated within specific contexts, we acknowledge that audiences may find some of the content triggering or offensive. It is important for CMU, as an institution of higher education, to provide forums that enable individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to engage in important dialogue. Experiencing different perspectives is key to the academic and social fiber of Carnegie Mellon University.

Previous Online Event Speakers

Keith E. Whittington, Ph.D. 

William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics
Princeton University

Randall L. Kennedy, J.D.

Michael R. Klein Professor of Law
Harvard Law School

Sigal Ben-Porath, Ph.D.

Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Author of Free Speech on Campus (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017)

Erwin Chemerinsky, J.D.

Dean, University of California Berkeley School of Law
Author of Free Speech on Campus (Yale University Press, 2017)

Commission Members

Jim Garrett, Chair, Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Jon Caulkins, Vice Chair, H. Guyford Stever University Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy, HC

Roberta Klatzky, Vice Chair, Charles J. Queenan, Jr. University Professor of Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction, DC

Jonathan Aldrich, Professor, Institute for Software Research and Computer Science Department, School of Computer Science

Erica Cochran Hameen, Assistant Professor, Architecture, College of Fine Arts; Co-Director, Center for Building Performance & Diagnostics

Lorrie Cranor, FORE Systems Professor, Director and Bosch Distinguished Professor in Security and Privacy Technologies, School of Computer Science

Phoebe Dinh, Doctoral student, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Scott Dodelson, Professor of Physics and Department Head, Mellon College of Science

Rebecca Doerge, Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science

Evan Feder, Master's student, School of Computer Science

Holly Hippensteel, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

Mark Kamlet, University Professor of Economics and Public Policy; Provost Emeritus, Heinz College and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences 

Alex Jackson, Master’s Student, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

David Kaufer, Mellon Distinguished Professor of English, Director of Rhetoric Program, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

John Lehoczky, Faculty Senate Chair and Thomas Lord University Professor of Statistics, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Golan Levin, Director, Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Professor of Art, School of Art, Center for the Arts

Jose Moura, Philip L. and Marsha Dowd University Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering 

Megan Rivas, Interim Head of School, Associate Professor, Dramaturgy, College of Fine Arts

Anne Robinson, Trustee Professor and Department Head Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering

Denise Rousseau, HJ Heinz II University Professor of Organizational Behavior and Public Policy, Heinz College

Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Julia Scherb, Undergraduate Student, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Alan Scheller-Wolf, Richard M. Cyert Professor of Operation Management, Tepper School of Business 

Peter Spirtes, Professor, Philosophy, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Molly Wright Steenson, Vice Provost for Faculty, Associate Professor in the School of Design and the K&L Gates Associate Professor of Ethics & Computational Technology

David Touretzky, Research Professor, Computer Science Department and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, School of Computer Science

Joe Trotter, University Professor, Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Jeanne VanBriesen, Duquesne Light Company Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy, College of Engineering

Jason Wagner, Chair, Staff Council and Senior Associate Director, MBA Student Services, Tepper School of Business

Keith Webster, Dean of the Libraries

Laurie Weingart, Richard M. and Margaret S. Cyert Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory, Tepper School of Business

Sarah Wenger, Undergraduate Student, Mellon College of Science

Advisor to the Commission:
Mary Jo Dively, Vice President and General Counsel

Staff to the Commission:
Patience Whitworth, Assistant Vice Provost for Operations and Strategic Initiatives