Donors showed low confidence in the college’s defense of free expression during Quillen’s tenure as president — only 20 percent of respondents said the administration protects free speech on campus. Furthermore, the survey found that 94 percent of all donors and 99 percent of dissatisfied donors agreed that Davidson’s next president should make free speech and civil discourse a “high priority.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni recently conducted a survey that revealed a majority of major donors to Davidson College are dissatisfied with the growing ideological imbalance and intolerance of free speech the college has taken in the last decade.
“Many have cut back their philanthropic support to the college in response, which is a serious threat to the institution,” according to the council’s report on the small, private North Carolina-based college.
Recently, a cohort of Davidson alumni was one of five higher education groups that co-founded the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, focused on supporting free speech, academic freedom, and viewpoint diversity at their respective colleges and universities. The group is called Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse.
Rep. Greg Murphy, R-North Carolina, an alumnus and donor to Davidson College, has been one of the most outspoken voices against college administration over the last decade. Murphy, who served on the Davidson College board of trustees and functioned as the alumni president, helped found Davidsonians for Freedom.
The group advocates for the college to foster intellectual freedom and supports an unfettered search for the truth, he said.
“When I was at Davidson College, there was a good balance of different opinions and thoughts, but unfortunately, over the last decade, the college has migrated towards an intolerance of differing opinions and a monolithic thought process,” Murphy told The College Fix.
“I’ve heard directly from professors at the college who did not want to express their opinion over fears of not being places on committees or receiving tenure, and I’ve heard directly from students who cannot talk freely in the classroom because of grading practices by their professors.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni survey was released in early November. It came out shortly after the college began the process of replacing the current president, Carol Quillen, who will step down after the 2021-22 school year.