Academic Freedom and the Central European University
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“I felt that the [Central European] University in Prague did not have enough local support. On principle, I don’t want to inflict my philanthropy.”
When words are cheapened, principles are lost. This is now the case with “academic freedom,” currently claimed to be under threat in the closing of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. The CEU is not simply moving, let alone has it been “forced out,” as the media reports. It has failed at, or at least outlived, its original purpose of bringing Western higher education to the former Communist countries of East-Central Europe. In any case, it has not managed to establish itself as a valued institution (in a region where higher education is traditionally honored) to the point where anyone beyond the narrow constituency it immediately serves is willing to make the sacrifices required for it to remain.
Some of us who once had high hopes for the CEU have long since been disabused. The CEU was never more than an...