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Statement from Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos on boycott of Israeli universities by American Studies Association

Posted on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 — 3:22 PM

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University stands with its Association of American Universities colleagues in opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as proposed by the American Studies Association. There are few principles more central to our mission as a university than an unwavering commitment to academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas across the globe. We believe this boycott, by its very nature, is incompatible with this principle. Vanderbilt faculty can and have taken their own positions on this issue, which is their right and indeed their responsibility as scholars, just as it is our duty to protect their freedom to do so. As a university, we promote spirited and intense debate on the most intractable problems facing our society, with the belief that this coming together of often opposing viewpoints leads to better understanding and progress. We believe that shutting out an entire nation’s universities and academic organizations only stands to prolong and perpetuate the problems the framers of the boycott wish to address.


  • Jim Kepper

    Thank you, Chancellor. Very well stated. Freedom is precious. Knowledge is power, not tyranny.

  • Paul Hemphill

    Thank you Chancellor; you got it right “on all cylinders”. The war against the Covenant and the People of the Book goes on and on, for centuries. Enough. It always amazes me that academicians are so narrow minded and would seek to censor that which they disagree. How ironic for those who advocate the free exchange of ideas.

  • Craig Smith

    Cop out

  • Debbie K

    Israel has every right to do whatever it wants with regard to protecting their people and it’s safety. Who wants to go to Palestinian territory anyway? One doesn’t have to fear for one’s safety in Israel. Joe, the Jewish people have been in said area for thousands of years and I don’t see the surrounding Arab nations jumping on the band wagon to take in Palestinians. So Stop it with the “Occupation Bull.”

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