‘I think we’re in a good spot now’: President Fuchs addresses controversy after UF professors barred from testifying against state

‘I think we’re in a good spot now’: University of Florida President addresses controversy after professors barred from testifying against state
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 11:13 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - University of Florida President Kent Fuchs addressed the controversy surrounding the task force created after three professors were blocked from testifying against the state. Fuchs said he feels he’s in good standing with professors who were concerned about the situation they say took their academic freedom of speech away.

Related story: University of Florida releases results of task force and response to inquiry on conflict of interest policy

After an outcry from UF faculty, staff and students, Fuchs accepted last week recommendations from the UF task force, made up of professors and administrators, that introduces a process where faculty members from each college would hear a professors request to testify as an expert witness against the state and either approve or deny the request.

“There will also be representation from each one of the colleges, typically a faculty member who has expertise in that area.”

He said he believes it would be rare for a request to be denied.

Related story: Five more University of Florida professors say officials restricted their participation in legal challenges to state laws

“Well the task force says it needs to be an unusual circumstance where there would really be harm to the university if a person can’t participate in the outside activity,” Fuchs explained. “So, it’ll be unusual if that takes place but it theoretically could but again it would have to go through this whole appeals process and the final decider would be the provost.”

He believes he’s on good terms with faculty members who were concerned about the situation.

Related story: ‘UF works because we do’: Faculty, students protest conflict of interest policy and task force

“I think we’re in a good spot now,” Fuchs said.” Based on the recommendations of the task force that I’ve accepted where faculty members indeed in rare occupations will have to go through an appeal process. Most of them won’t have to declare the activity but if it is an activity that needs to be declared then most of them my guess will be approved and then if they’re not approved they go through an appeals process.”

He said the final decision of that appeal process will come from the provost.

Earlier the United Faculty of Florida at UF called for an independent body to make recommendations.

President Fuchs said the task force’s recommendations are similar to other research universities in the country.

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