Kansas State University Distinguished Professors: Open Letter to the Kansas Board of Regents

Kansas State University23 Dec. 2013

Dear Kansas Board of Regents,

As University Distinguished Professors at Kansas State University, we write to call for the immediate repeal of the new social media policy, and to ask that you instead work together with elected faculty representatives and administration to craft a social media policy that best serves the interests of Kansas universities, their faculty, staff, and students. By revoking the faculty and staff’s right to freedom of speech, the new social media policy is an affront to academic freedom and academic excellence.

Furthermore, it undermines Kansas State University’s 2025 plan by driving away both potential hires and current faculty.  Social media covered by the new policy include cutting-edge venues valued for the dissemination of research, scholarly and creative activity, and development.  The free and open exchange of ideas is essential to fulfilling the mission of any university. As a group recognized for our contributions to and support of the essential research work of our university, we look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Christer Aakeroy, Chemistry
John Blair, Biology
Frank Blecha, Anatomy & Physiology
Susan Brown, Biology
Edgar Chambers IV, Human Nutrition
M. M. Chengappa, Diagnostic Medicine
Gary Conrad, Biology
Rob Denell, Biology
Elizabeth Dodd, English
Walter Dodds, Biology
Michael Dryden, Diagnostic Medicine & Pathobiology
James H. Edgar, Chemical Engineering
Brett Esry, Physics
David Hartnett, Biology
John Hatcliff, Computing & Information Sciences
Dale Herspring, Political Sciences
Ryszard Jankowiak, Chemistry
Anthony Joern, Biology
Michael Kanost, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Ken Klabunde, Chemistry
David Littrell, Music
Daniel Marcus, Anatomy & Physiology
James Marsden, Animal Sciences & Industry
Richard Marston, Geography
Nancy Monteiro-Riviere, Anatomy & Physiology
S. Muthukrishnan, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics*
T.G. Nagaraja, Diagnostic Medicine & Pathobiology
Philip Nel, English
Harald Prins, Anthropology
Chuck Rice, Agronomy
Juergen Richt, Diagnostic Medicine & Pathobiology
Jim Riviere, Anatomy & Physiology
Tom Roche, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Ted Schroeder, Agricultural Economics
James Shanteau, Psychological Sciences
Chris Sorensen, Physics
Brian S. Spooner, Biology
Xiuzhi Susan Sun, Grain Science & Industry
Michael Tokach, Animal Sciences & Industry
Philine Wangemann, Anatomy & Physiology
Ruth Welti, Biology
Dean Zollman, Physics*
University Distinguished Professors
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS

cc: Governor Sam Brownback, President Kirk Schulz, Provost April Mason, Faculty Senate President Julia Keen, Director of Government Relations Sue Peterson

Updated 23 Dec. 2013, 10:36 am: Since I sent this out, several UDPs have emailed asking to be included. I’m adding their names above, with an * to indicate that they weren’t on the original letter. But they’re very much in support, and asked that I record their support here.


  1. EdwardGreen


    Below is the letter that I submitted concerning my feeling. Keep up the good work:

    The new policy concerning Internet use for faculty and staff must be reconsidered at once. At the risk of images or statements reflecting negatively on a public institution we have moved toward potentially quashing a critical element in the progress of scientific development and the “Rosetta stone” of a free society. While Universities and those that serve in a public capacity have a responsibility to proper “images”, they have the greater responsibility of maintaining a protected space for critical thought, civil debate and academic freedom. Perhaps the University should implement policies in line with contemporary technologies. However, sacrificing the virtue of free speech and open disagree is unacceptable. There can be controversy without conflict as new knowledge develops. As written, this policy is too vague and wrought with opportunities for misuse.


    Edward Green
    Graduate Student
    Kansas State University

  2. Deborah Plummer


    I’m an alumni of KSU/3 times and find it unbelievable we’re reliving the McCarthy era, again, and on the college campus, like KU and KSU; or, maybe it shouldn’t be as surprising since this is Kansas. When the KU Journalism professor was forced on-leave, I was surprised because it was “liberal KU,” but on second revision, and as the news came from the right-wing state house, it became more sensical.For those of us who have followed the trajectory of these right-wing/TeaParty Republicans closely, and have spoken out against them, the illegal war upon Iraq, and the other misdeed of the Bush Administration, and the continuing errors of this current administration (i.e. NSA travails, XLPipeline, etc.), know full well what it is like to speak-out and receive the full-blow of retribution on our jobs, i.e. being fired. Our colleges/universities need to be the last bastion of free speech and set an example of a free society and NOT what a totalitarian regime would scream with joy in observing. I noticed during the 1960’s and currently (during the Occupy Movements), neither KU nor KSU did much to support these movements and they should be ashamed for their lack of involvement and ask themselves how come … are they so endowed w/their corporate feeders that they’re afraid to step-out from their jailers? Is that the reason KU/KSU feel so cowed by the KS Legislators? Money/power? Free speech / open debate are scary concepts to those who hold power currently in Kansas and because there hasn’t been much protest against anything the Bush Administration did against free speech the last 13 years, the Republicans thought you all agreed so the noose tighten over these years until “here we are today.” I wish you luck w/your appeal.

  3. Michael Dudek


    Thanks Philip;
    I would tell you what I really think of this debacle but lo I am afraid of the repercussion. Pity

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