- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - University of Illinois officials say free speech and campus culture will be the focus of the school trustees’ annual retreat this summer.

The plans come amid controversial speakers facing backlashes at campuses nationwide, The News-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/2rZR0Ov ).

The university’s Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology recently dropped plans to have Nobel Laureate James Watson, who co-discovered the structure of DNA, lead a discussion at the school because of his views on race and intelligence.

“This is an icon of science who is close to being 90 years old who is talking about a scientific presentation,” said the university’s president Tim Killeen.

But organizers of the discussion felt it would have been difficult to handle due to the controversy surrounding Watson’s views.

“I think you have to recognize that we’re a university for all,” Killeen said. “But I can respect some of the rationale that was brought to the table.”

Other incidents at campuses include protesters shouting at political speakers or preventing them from appearing.

Killeen said the university has in recent months been analyzing ways to reduce potential risk, including student safety, free speech and assembly.

He said he’s invited national speakers to the trustees’ retreat to address topics including campus culture and freedom of expression.

“We want an authentic University of Illinois voice in all of the above,” he said.

The trustees’ retreat is scheduled for July.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com


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