CHANCELLOR DRAKE PARTICIPATES IN HILLEL SUMMIT
Chancellor Michael Drake joined national educational leaders in Washington, D.C., on March 24 as part of a Hillel-sponsored summit designed to address common concerns and establish and strengthen relationships between Jewish and university communities.
The summit, “Imagining a More Civil Society: The University and the Jewish Community,” runs through March 26 and includes national Jewish leaders, university administrators and faculty, Hillel board members, philanthropists and student leaders, among others. Speaking to more than 500 delegates, Chancellor Drake deplored anti-Semitism and posed a key question: “How do we defend and protect free speech – a cornerstone of our democracy?”
Joining Chancellor Drake on a panel entitled “Fostering a More Civil Society” were Amy Gutmann, president, University of Pennsylvania; Donna E. Shalala, president, University of Miami; and author Robert D. Putnam, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Tufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow moderated the panel, which focused on challenges faced by campuses – particularly public universities – as they seek to foster civil, productive dialogue while protecting First Amendment rights.
The chancellor reiterated his condemnation of hate speech as emotionally and intellectually repugnant. Referring to UC Irvine and other university communities, he said: “Our job is to foster constructive dialogue and good citizenship while maintaining a safe environment.”
He outlined the many ways in which UC Irvine encourages and supports such citizenship. The campus has held more than 100 seminars, lectures and meetings with senior campus leadership, Jewish students and community leaders participating. UC Irvine also was awarded a competitive grant to participate in theDifficult Dialogues
program; it established an endowed faculty-exchange program
among UC Irvine and two leading Israeli universities; and it has engaged Abraham’s Vision to evaluate campus attitudes and enhance efforts to facilitate civil dialogue on differing views.
UC Irvine’s commitment to these principles was challenged in a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights in 2004. An exhaustive three-year investigation found no evidence that the campus failed to act promptly or appropriately in addressing student concerns; the investigation was closed in late 2007.