Message from the Provost: Fostering a Supportive Classroom

January 26, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

At the University of Pittsburgh, we recognize the critical importance of fostering an environment that values intellectual pursuits, free inquiry, and open discourse, with academic freedom being a cornerstone. Indeed, the University has long endorsed the 1940 AAUP Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and our community and leadership has regularly examined and reaffirmed those principles. It is critical that each member of our community is empowered to advance knowledge and have the space to engage in difficult conversations within their disciplinary areas, while providing an atmosphere that is conducive to learning.

At the same time, one of the three primary tenets of the AAUP definition states that “teachers … should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.” We encourage faculty members to integrate the principles of academic freedom responsibly within the context of their respective disciplines, fostering an environment that supports rigorous intellectual exploration while maintaining a clear connection to the curriculum. Now, more than ever, we need to anchor to these tenets. Together, we can uphold the ideals of academic freedom while delivering a well-rounded and purposeful educational experience for all our students. Above all else, we are committed to maintaining classroom environments that are welcoming and productive.

I encourage faculty to review resources available on the Teaching Center website or to reach out to with any questions or concerns.


Joseph J. McCarthy
Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical Engineering
University of Pittsburgh