Publication Date

March 4, 2024

Perspectives Section


Post Type


From October 2023 into the new year, the AHA continued to monitor state-level education legislation and activities, offering testimony opposing a bill in Ohio that would threaten academic freedom and undermine the integrity of education in Ohio’s public universities. Additionally, the AHA signed on to a letter urging leadership at SUNY Potsdam to reconsider announced cuts to the university’s liberal arts programs and sent a letter to Manhattan College asserting the value of the school’s history program.

AHA Signs On to Letter Opposing Elimination of Programs at SUNY Potsdam

On October 5, the AHA signed on to a letter from the American Philosophical Association and other scholarly societies urging leadership at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam “to reconsider SUNY Potsdam’s recently announced Financial Sustainability Plan, which proposes the elimination of 14 programs, including several core liberal arts programs.” “As part of the public university system of New York, SUNY Potsdam has obligations beyond providing basic career preparation. It is responsible for helping to educate a thoughtful, engaged, and critical citizenry who can tackle the challenges facing society today and in the future,” the letter stated. “Eliminating students’ opportunities for deep study in liberal arts disciplines at a regional public institution such as SUNY Potsdam sends a dangerous message—that such study is a luxury, available only to those privileged enough to attend more ‘elite’ universities.”

AHA Submits Testimony Opposing Ohio SB 83

On November 28, the AHA submitted testimony to the Ohio House Higher Education Committee expressing strong objection to Ohio Senate Bill 83 in its current substitute version (I_135_0330-11). On its surface, SB 83 proclaims respect for “intellectual diversity.” In practice, as the AHA’s testimony explains, “a series of mandates” introduced in this legislation “repeatedly insert the will and judgement of politically appointed boards of trustees into the fundamental work of university faculty, carving out troubling new exceptions to academic freedom without any clear benefit.” While the AHA does not disagree with some of the bill’s stated goals, our testimony expresses grave doubts about the utility of the bill’s heavy-handed interventions in both history education and university administration.

AHA Sends Letter to Manhattan College Opposing Termination of History Faculty Members

On January 26, the AHA sent a letter to the president, acting provost, and chair of the board of trustees at Manhattan College expressing “grave concern about the termination of two members of the history faculty.” “The history department will be cut in half from six to three through these and other faculty eliminations,” the AHA wrote. “As a Lasallian institution with a strong tradition of liberal arts education, Manhattan College has a particularly impressive record of high-quality history education provided by an accomplished faculty committed to undergraduate education. The AHA urges the administration to consider how its actions are undermining this commitment to the liberal arts and the training of teachers, and the importance of the liberal arts to the lifelong learning essential to occupational and professional success.”

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Becky West
Rebecca L. West

American Historical Association