A Brief History of the University of Michigan Faculty Senate’s Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom
In 1954 the University of Michigan suspended and then terminated Professors H. Chandler Davis and Mark Nickerson, a tenured faculty member, and suspended but then reinstated Professor Clement Markert for their refusal to give testimony during a visit to Michigan of a group from the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. National AAUP censured the University in 1958 and, after a new Regents’ Bylaw, 5.09, was adopted, removed censure in 1959. In 1988 Wilbert J. McKeachie, Professor Emeritus of Psychology published an article, Reminiscences of the 1950’s, in the University of Michigan AAUP Chapter Newsletter that reviewed in detail the treatment of Davis, Markert and Nickerson at the University of Michigan during the 1950’s.
The University of Michigan Chapter of the AAUP contacted various University officials, hoping that they would encourage the Regents to take appropriate action, and finally sent a proposal to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs in October 1989. The University’s Senate Assembly endorsed the proposal in February 1990. When it became clear that the Regents would not take action, the Senate Assembly in November, 1990, passed a resolution that deeply regretted “the failure of the University Community to protect the values of intellectual freedom” in 1954 and established the annual University of Michigan Senate Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom. At the same meeting, the Senate Assembly established an Academic Freedom Lecture. On February 18, 1991, the first Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture was given by Robert M. O’Neil, General Counsel of the national AAUP, Professor of Law and Past President of the University of Virginia The three professors were present and participated in a panel discussion after the lecture. Adam Kulakow whose video had such an impact was also present.
Professors Recall Hard Lessons of McCarthyism : Free speech: Some want the University of Michigan to apologize to three professors who were branded as potential subversives because of their former Communist sympathies.