Association of American Universities' statement on boycott of Israeli academic institutions

From the university's inception nearly 150 years ago, President David Skorton and Provost Kent Fuchs have indicated, Cornell and members of its faculty have had many working relationships and formal agreements with academic institutions around the world. These collaborations have been - and remain - important to our mission of teaching, research and engagement. We believe that these interactions and collaborations have been productive even in countries in which some faculty, students, and/or alumni disapprove of the policies of the government. The sharing of knowledge and the substantive results that spring from these relationships benefit people from many countries, including our own, and often contribute to the betterment of our global community.

The Association of American Universities issued the following statement in response to the American Studies Association resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Cornell President David Skorton signed the AAU statement as a member of its executive committee.

The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.

Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.

Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.

William C. Powers, President, The University of Texas at Austin – Chair
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania – Vice Chair
Scott S. Cowen, President, Tulane University – Past Chair
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University
Michael V. Drake, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine
Bernadette Gray-Little, The University of Kansas
Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh
Morton O. Schapiro, President, Northwestern University
Lou Anna K. Simon, President, Michigan State University
David Skorton, President, Cornell University
Hunter R. Rawlings III, President, Association of American Universities – ex-officio