Chancellor Andrews receives academic freedom award posthumously

Benjamin Andrews
Benjamin Andrews

Former University of Nebraska Chancellor E. Benjamin Andrews has been honored posthumously with an Academic Freedom award from the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska. The award was presented to Peterson Brink, assistant university archivist with the University Libraries, on Andrews' behalf.

The award is given yearly to an individual, group or institution demonstrating exceptional courage and service in the promotion and defense of academic freedom. This is the first time in the 25-year history of the award that it was presented posthumously.

Andrews was NU chancellor from 1900 to 1908. He was honored for hiring faculty who had been unjustly fired after exercising their free speech.

Key academic freedom hires made by Andrews and noted in the award include:

• Edward A. Ross, one of the founders of sociology in the United States, who was fired from Stanford University in 1900 because of his criticisms of Chinese labor used by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company;

• George Elliot Howard, who hired Ross at Stanford and resigned in 1901 in protest over Ross’ firing. Howard had taught at Nebraska before going to Stanford to establish a history department in 1891;

• Harry Kirk Wolfe, who was fired in 1897 by Nebraska chancellor George D. MacLean for blowing the whistle on a department chair who had inflated student enrollment figures.

An exhibit about Andrews and the three faculty hires is on display in the Porter display case on the second floor of Love Library South. The exhibit includes the Academic Freedom award plaque.

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