The Identity of The Public University


B. Jessie Hill


Public universities do not just have educational missions. They possess identities, grounded in substantive values, and they often seek to impose those values on members of the university community. Indeed, universities sometimes even seek to regulate the speech of students and others when it conflicts with the values and mission of the university. This is not necessarily a bad thing. An extensive literature extols the importance to civil society of institutions such as universities, and courts have in many respects recognized the unique status of the university, as well as its entitlement to a measure of autonomy from the sort of regulation that applies outside its walls. While arguing for further recognition and formalization of institutional autonomy for universities, this article nonetheless urges that careful limits be imposed — including constitutional limits and a robust countervailing right to academic freedom — in order to ensure that public universities and the states that support them do not trample the rights of individual community members or undermine the unique role and educational purpose of the institution.


Institutional Identity, Education, Public University, First Amendment, Free Speech, Academic Freedom, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

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17 Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion 429 (2016)