My Iona

Academic and Artistic Freedom Statement

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”
Thomas Paine in “Address to the Addressers,” 1792

Iona University is an institution of higher learning which, according to our mission statement, is “inspired by the legacy of Blessed Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers” and “embodies opportunity, justice, and the liberating power of education.” Furthermore, “Iona University’s purpose is to foster intellectual inquiry, community engagement, and an appreciation for diversity.” Our graduates are defined as individuals “recognized for their ethics, creativity and problem solving abilities; their independent and adaptable thinking; their joy in lifelong learning; and their enduring integration of mind, body and spirit.”

In order to accomplish this noble mission, it is essential that the community in general and the student body in particular be encouraged to engage a wide range of ideas and artistic expressions. We fear no idea and no art because our mission is to seek truth. Our educational goal is to distinguish between good philosophy and poor philosophy, true reasoning from false reasoning, and real affirmation of the dignity of all people from mere nominal affirmation. Carefully and critically, students need to be able to examine all texts and artistic forms that embody these philosophies, reasonings, and affirmations. Free inquiry and free expression are essential to the accomplishment of these goals. It is also imperative that the University protect the community from any attempts internal or external to restrict the free exchange of ideas and creative expressions.

In Ex Corde Ecclesia Pope John Paul II wrote: “By means of a kind of universal humanism a Catholic University is completely dedicated to the research of all aspects of truth in their essential connection with the supreme Truth, who is God. It does this without fear but rather with enthusiasm, dedicating itself to every path of knowledge, aware of being preceded by him who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’...”

There is no inherent conflict between faith and reason. Iona University is dedicated to pursuing both, enabling the University to practice academic freedom beyond that available at even public institutions in the United States. We do not seek controversy for controversy’s sake; but neither do we shun controversy when our goal is truth. We are dedicated to exploring the truth of all ideas and artistic expressions. As a College community we foster dialogue over monologue and we strive to nourish an environment where all ideas can be heard, explored, and debated.

The examination of ideas and creative works is central to the essence of American higher education in general and to Catholic higher education in particular. For all of the above reasons, Iona University subscribes to the American Association of University Professors’ 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom (“The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.”), to the pivotal 1967 International Federation of Catholic Universities’ Statement on the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University (“…institutional autonomy and academic freedom are essential conditions of life and growth and indeed of survival for Catholic Universities as for all Universities.”), and to the June 2000 statement of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops,1 The Application for Ex Corde Ecclesiae for the United States (“Academic freedom is an essential component of a Catholic University.”).

Acknowledgement is here provided that the above statement borrows with permission from the St. Norbert College statement on “Academic and Artistic Freedom,” from Fairfield University’s statement on “Freedom of Expression,” and from the Virginia Commonwealth University’s statement on “Academic Rights and Responsibilities.”

- Adopted January 14, 2015