Penn Libraries

Academic Freedom Now


Scott Nearing

In 1915, the University of Pennsylvania’s Trustees fired economist Scott Nearing in retaliation for his activism in the campaign against child labor. Nearing’s termination sparked a national debate and helped to rewrite the history of academic freedom in America. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Nearing affair, and to explore the status of academic freedom in contemporary higher education, The Penn Libraries, along with the School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Law, the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost are sponsoring a panel discussion and exhibition devoted to the topic on Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 from 3:00-6:00pm in the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts.

The distinguished panel of scholars that will explore the status of tenure and academic freedom in 2015 include:

  • Claire Finkelstein (Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania and past chair of the University of Pennsylvania Faculty Senate)
  • Stanley Fish (Professor of Humanities and Law, Florida International University, and Professor, Cardozo Law School)
  • Ann Franke (President, Wise Results, LLC., Former Staff Counsel, AAUP)
  • Bruce Kuklick (Professor of History, the University of Pennsylvania)

Peter Conn (Professor of English and Education, University of Pennsylvania) will serve as moderator.

A reception will immediately follow the panel discussion. An exhibition of Scott Nearing materials will be open to the public in the Lea Library on the sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center from 2pm until the reception ends.

If you plan to attend these events, please RSVP here.


About the Penn Libraries
The Penn Libraries serve the world-class faculty and students of Penn’s 12 schools. The Libraries’ collections comprise more than 7 million volumes, over 100,000 journals, some 2 million digitized images, and extraordinary rare and unique materials that document the intellectual and cultural experience of ancient and modern civilizations. Through our collaborative relationships, we supplement Penn’s great local collections with physical access to the Center for Research Libraries (approximately 5 million items), the combined holdings of the Ivies (more than 70 million volumes), and exclusive electronic access to some 2 million public domain titles in the HathiTrust. Today, the Libraries play an instrumental role in developing new technologies for information discovery and dissemination and are noted for groundbreaking work in digital library design.  To learn more about the Penn Libraries, visit


About the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Kislak Center is a vibrant space that brings together people, technology and unique content.  Located on the top floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, it was redesigned in 2013 to allow several different groups to interact with objects of study simultaneously, increasing the use of primary resources in the University’s curriculum and access to the Libraries’ resources for the larger scholarly community.  Today the Kislak Center encompasses the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Furness Memorial Shakespeare Library, the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. To learn more about the Kislak Center, visit

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