AFA Urges College to Reinstate Professor Terminated Over Grading Practices

Nov 20, 2023 | Press Release

AFA Urges College to Reinstate Professor Terminated Over Grading Practices

Spelman College removes professor from tenure track after student complaints

PRINCETON, NJ – The Academic Freedom Alliance sent a letter to Spelman College denouncing its decision to terminate Professor Kendrick Morales from a tenure track position after the college received “significant complaints” from students “about certain of [Morales’s] grading practices.” Moreover, senior members of the administration altered student grades in Professor Morales’s classes without notifying or consulting him first. 

“Spelman College’s actions in this matter involve important issues at the heart of the academic and scholarly enterprise,” wrote Keith Whittington in the AFA’s letter to Spelman College. “Members of the faculty must have the freedom to honestly assess the quality of the academic work of students and their mastery of course materials and concepts. We strongly believe that fundamental principles of academic freedom require assessment of individual student performance to be made by the teaching staff appointed to teach each course.”

The letter continued, “Principles of academic freedom exist not only so that professors can expose students to controversial ideas and provide their honest scholarly judgment on the concepts being taught, but also so that professors can provide their honest scholarly evaluation of the academic performance of their students. The educational enterprise is corrupted if administrators can alter the grades of students simply to keep them satisfied and discipline and terminate professors for the sin of holding their students to high academic standards.”

The Academic Freedom Alliance is a diverse alliance of college and university faculty members who are dedicated to upholding the principles of academic freedom and professorial free speech. These principles are central to the mission of our institutions of higher education for the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The AFA is committed to defending universal principles of academic freedom and will come to the assistance of professors regardless of their individual views. As always, the AFA is not concerned with the substance or merits of a professor’s ideas but with the principle that universities should be places that tolerate controversial ideas and allow free inquiry and debate, not public opinion or political pressure, to separate error from truth.

Learn More About the Academic Freedom Alliance

No one, at any academic institution, should fear suppression or retaliation for speaking out publicly in any form. We encourage you to join the movement in supporting the flourishing of intellectual life and the pursuit of knowledge and truth at institutions of higher learning.