‘Inside UVA’: President Ryan, First Amendment Expert Talk Freedom of Speech in New Podcast

November 10, 2022 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’ With Freedom of Speech Expert Leslie Kendrick(20:01)

Leslie Kendrick, director of the University of Virginia Center for the First Amendment, talks about the importance of UVA’s statement on freedom of speech, which she helped craft.


Law professor Leslie Kendrick directs the University of Virginia’s Center for the First Amendment. She also chaired the University’s Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry.

This week, President Jim Ryan hosted her on his podcast, “Inside UVA.”

Ryan invited Kendrick to chair the committee early last year. A few months later, in June 2021,  UVA’s Board of Visitors unanimously endorsed the committee’s proposed statement on freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry.

This is the opening paragraph of the statement on free speech principles:

“The University of Virginia unequivocally affirms its commitment to free expression and free inquiry. All views, beliefs, and perspectives deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference. This commitment underpins every part of the University’s mission. Free and open inquiry is the basis for the scientific method and all other modes of investigation that produce, expand, and refine knowledge. It is at the heart of the principles of academic freedom that protect faculty from interference with their research and their views. Likewise, the educational endeavor for students requires freedom to speak, write, inquire, listen, challenge, and learn, including through exposure to a range of ideas and cultivation of the tools of critical thinking and engagement. These tools are vital not only to students’ personal intellectual development but also to their futures as citizen leaders equipped to assess contending arguments and to contribute to societal progress. For all of these reasons, expression of ideas should be given the widest possible latitude.”

During the podcast, Ryan asked Kendrick, a First Amendment expert, why she thinks it’s important that UVA have such a statement.

The Future of Medicine Just Broke Ground in Virginia | Learn More About What It Means to Be Great and Good in All We Do
The Future of Medicine Just Broke Ground in Virginia | Learn More About What It Means to Be Great and Good in All We Do

“What I think statements like this can do is serve as a touchstone for the community,” she said. “I think having that quick and ready touchstone can be really helpful to people when they’re thinking about, you know, “What’s my relationship to other people’s speech?’ Or, ‘What’s my relationship to the thoughts that I want to espouse?’”

The president then asked Kendrick, “If you look across the landscape of higher education, how do you think free speech is doing on college campuses these days?”

She said schools must continually evaluate discourse on campus.

“Free speech has become, I think, a real flashpoint for people,” she replied. “I think it’s important for universities to talk about this and to say, you know, ‘How do we think we’re doing?’ And to think about how they see free inquiry values being embodied every day.”

You can listen to the whole conversation on most podcast apps, including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. And tune in to previous episodes, including the season two opener with alumna and media megastar Katie Couric.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications