Statement Opposing Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Dec. 20, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — William C. Powers, President of The University of Texas at Austin, supports and has signed the following statement by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities.

The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.

Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.

Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.

William C. Powers, President, The University of Texas at Austin – Chair
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania – Vice Chair
Scott S. Cowen, President, Tulane University – Past Chair
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University
Michael V. Drake, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine
Bernadette Gray-Little, The University of Kansas
Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh
Morton O. Schapiro, President, Northwestern University
Lou Anna K. Simon, President, Michigan State University
David Skorton, President, Cornell University
Hunter R. Rawlings III, President, Association of American Universities – ex-officio 

For more information, contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of the President, 512 475 7847.

5 Comments to "Statement Opposing Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions"

1.  Majesta said on Dec. 21, 2013

Divest, then.

At least make kind of statement against Israel apartheid.

2.  James said on Dec. 21, 2013

Kudos to Professor Powers.

3.  Robert Cullick said on Dec. 23, 2013

Excellent response to a misguided and hypocritical attack on intellectual freedom.

4.  Henry G Rodriguez said on Jan. 8, 2014

Excellent comments. We support your stand on any attacks on intellectual freedom. The Israeli research is one of the most important contribution to humanity.

5.  Nevet Basker said on Jan. 12, 2014

Denouncing the misguided and discriminatory boycott, while maintaining the "institutional membership" with the Association that passed that boycott, is hypocritical at best. Is UT Austin trying to have it both ways--supporting academic freedom AND those who undermine it? Please TERMINATE the university's affiliation with this bigoted organization.