University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose joined with education leaders nationwide on Wednesday at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to discuss elements of a strong institutional framework for freedom of expression and the challenges that go with it.

UCM says the meeting of The American Council on Education (ACE) Convening on Campus Inclusion and Free Expression was the 3rd event in a series which has taken place over the course of the 2017-18 academic year on campuses across the country.

According to information provided by Lorelle Espinosa, assistant vice president for the ACE Center for Policy Research and Strategy, national events that have occurred over the past two years have created a challenging landscape at higher education institutions, often pitting values of diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression against each other. The ACE series is described as a uncover the tensions that have resulted and to chart a path forward.

“ACE has convened college and university president to engage with their peers and other experts on how to protect freedom of expression on campuses in a way that preserves the spirit of open, robust inquiry while also ensuring that all are able to enjoy the rights and protections of the First Amendment,” Espinosa noted.

Ambrose participated in the discussion about sharing dialogue related to freedom of expression. It included information about how ACE and other stakeholders can support campus leadership in this area. They evaluated models that the community can learn from and identify areas in need of scholarship.

“I commend ACE for coordinating the convening on freedom of expression, and look forward to the opportunity to be part of the discussion about this very central issue to our democracy,” Ambrose said. “It’s important that colleges and universities expose students to different points of view and people of different backgrounds, but students should feel included and respected. These seem to be competing interests when, in fact, we must design ways to advance both important values. Campus leaders need to be aware of what they can do to advance learning in these situations, and create an atmosphere which values a civil, healthy discussion of ideas that will teach students how to engage as citizens.”

Ambrose joined about 45 individuals representing colleges and universities from institutions of all sizes, some of which included the University of Missouri System, Metropolitan Community College-Longview, University of Kansas, Georgetown University, Washington University, Texas A&M- San Antonia, University of Michigan, Michigan State, University of Alabama, and the University of Wisconsin.

Kurt Parsons