Announcement of Ph.D. in Higher Education Dissertation Defense Nora Anne Devlin: “Pursuant to Professorial Duties: Faculty Free-Speech Cases Post-Garcetti v. Ceballos”

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

ABSTRACT: In Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), the Supreme Court of the United States held that public employees are not protected by the First Amendment when they speak pursuant to their official duties. The dissenting justices raised the question of how this precedent might be inappropriately applied to faculty at public colleges and universities. This dissertation builds on over a century of scholarly literature on academic freedom and faculty free speech to review the discursive and legal implications of courts’ decisions in faculty free speech cases from 2006-2020. Using a conceptual framework informed by legal scholars Robert Post, J. Robert Byrne, and Judith Areen, this dissertation analyzes the faculty free speech jurisprudence and the conceptualizations of academic freedom that do and do not inform the courts in their decisions. As Areen has noted, how courts deal with faculty speech on matters relating to institutional governance raises important questions about how the courts understand shared governance structures in higher education. This dissertation argues that when faculty speech is determined by one’s faculty peers (according to institutional policies and procedures) to serve the educational mission of the institution, that speech should be protected under the First Amendment.

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