US: Security threat or political threat?

Back in March, when a faculty panel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln selected William Ayers to be the keynote speaker at a November conference at the College of Education, nobody really noticed, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. On 17 October the university called off the Ayers appearance, citing security concerns. But the timing of the announcement - shortly after Nebraska's governor and other politicians and donors demanded that Ayers be kept away - left many dubious. Some faculty leaders say that the incident represents a serious violation of the principles of academic freedom.

Given that "there are people at the University of Nebraska with a deep knowledge of academic freedom and an equally deep commitment to it," it is "particularly painful to see this institution intimidated by politicians and donors into cancelling," Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors, told Inside Higher Ed.

With Ayers in the news, the university issued a statement noting that no state funds were being used for his visit and that he would be speaking on his scholarly research, not politics. But Governor Dave Heineman, a Republican, called for the invitation to Ayers to be rescinded. The state's attorney general, Jon Bruning, followed with his own call for the invitation to be withdrawn. Alumni and donors started to send e-mails and call the university, with some threatening to halt donations.
Full report in Inside Higher Ed