Chandler Davis

Chandler Davis

(August 12th, 1926 – September 24th, 2022)

Clement Markert

Clement Markert

(April 11, 1917 – October 1, 1999)

Mark Nickerson

Mark Nickerson

(October 22, 1916- March 12, 1998)

The annual Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom is named for three U-M faculty members—Chandler Davis, Clement Markert, and Mark Nickerson—who in 1954 were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. All invoked constitutional rights and refused to answer questions about their political associations. The three were suspended from the University with subsequent hearings and committee actions resulting in the reinstatement of Markert, an assistant professor who eventually gained tenure, and the dismissal of Davis, an instructor, and Nickerson, a tenured associate professor.

33rd Annual Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom

 “Academic Freedom 2024: Educational Gag Orders, State Censorship, and the Fight for Higher Education”

Thursday, November 9, 2023

4 pm – 5:30 pm

University of Michigan Law School
Honigman Auditorium
100 Hutchins Hall
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Register to Attend



Across the country, state legislators are increasingly making clear their intentions to pass laws to tighten control over — or outright censor — public education in schools, colleges and universities. On campuses, this movement threatens to upend commitments to the free exchange of ideas and institutional autonomy in curricular, research, and hiring decisions, putting academic freedom in peril. Professors are already attesting to a chilled climate, in which they have become concerned with running afoul of new laws delimiting teaching about race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities. This talk will summarize the current state of play concerning this rising menace, why it must be confronted, and how the higher education community has a unique role to play in communicating this anti-democratic threat to the public. It will offer a clarion call and suggestions for how to create campuses that serve academic freedom for all in the lead up to the 2024 election and beyond.


Introductory Remarks

Tom Braun
Chair, Faculty Senate
Professor of Biostatistics, School of Public Health

Melanie Schulze Tanielian
Associate Professor of History, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Director Academic Program, Program in International and Comparative Studies
Co-Chair, Davis, Markert, and Nickerson Academic Freedom Lecture Committee

Elizabeth Moje
Dean, Marsal Family School of Education
George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education
Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Professor of Education


2023 DMN Lecture Poster

Jonathan Friedman

Jonathan Friedman, Ph.D., is the director of free expression and education programs at PEN America. He oversees research, advocacy, and education related to academic freedom, educational gag orders, book bans, and general free expression in schools, colleges, and universities.

An interdisciplinary scholar by training, Friedman has served as lead author on PEN America’s reports, Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools (2022), Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (2022), Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach (2021), and Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America (2020). He also steered the production of PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Guide (2020). He regularly provides commentary for news media about educational censorship, and has published op-eds for CNN, The Washington PostThe Hill, The Daily Beast, New York Daily News, and Inside Higher Ed 

In this role, Friedman also drives forward PEN America’s efforts to catalyze a more informed, civic culture among the rising generation, on college campuses, and among the general public. He oversees PEN America’s Free Expression Advocacy Institutes for youth, as well as its centenary event series, Flashpoints: Free Speech in American History, Culture & Society. He has facilitated workshops and conducted advisory meetings with senior leaders, faculty, and administrators at dozens of colleges and universities across the country, and for numerous higher education organizations and professional academic associations.

Friedman has published sociological research on universities, nationalism, and globalization, and taught courses at New York University (NYU), Columbia University, and Bard College’s Open Society University Network. Formerly, he was part of a research team examining the production of knowledge on world regions at the Social Science Research Council, and served as administrative director of the Multinational Institute of American Studies, an exchange program for international scholars based at NYU. Friedman holds an MA and Ph.D. in international education from NYU, and has received awards for his teaching, research, and leadership. He was a 2019-2020 fellow of the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.