Robert O'Neil To Lecture At Virginia Tech On Academic Freedom In Times Of Crisis

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 18, 2003 – Robert O'Neil, the founding director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, will speak on "Academic Freedom in a Time of Crisis" as part of Graduate Education Week at Virginia Tech. The event will be held on Wednesday, March 26, in Owens Banquet Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Before founding the Jefferson Center, O'Neil served five years as president of the University of Virginia. The center is affiliated with the university, where he continues to teach law school courses in the First Amendment field, including a new seminar on "Free Expression in Cyberspace."

In addition to addressing academic issues in troubled times, he is an expert on security-driven restriction of research, threats to tenure, national security effects on First Amendment rights, identity theft, Homeland Security and the USA Patriot Act, and the SEVIS program that monitors most international students in the U.S. He is also a proponent of open government and the concept of allowing easy access to public documents. Recently, he attended a conference, sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Center, at the National Press Club on media coverage of the war on terrorism.

Before O'Neil came to Virginia, his two decades of administrative service included terms as vice-president of Indiana University at Bloomington and president of the University of Wisconsin. He is a director of the Commonwealth Fund and a trustee of the National Coalition Against Censorship. He recently chaired the boards of WVPT-Public Television and the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

During the 1990s, O'Neil was chair of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and of Committee A (Academic Freedom and Tenure) of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). He currently chairs a special AAUP Committee on Academic Freedom and National Security in Time of Crisis and serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Privacy in the Information Age.

O'Neil has written numerous law review articles and books, most recently The First Amendment and Civil Liability, published in 2001.