Year of Free Speech

Year of Free Speech

For the 2023-24 academic year, UC Irvine is organizing a wide-ranging series of programs and events designed to provide our community with a deeper understanding of the values of free expression and academic freedom. This will also address and model what it means for people who disagree with one another to discuss and debate their differences in a way consistent with the norms of an academic community.

This universitywide set of thematic events and programs is co-sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and by the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, led by Executive Director Michelle Deutchman, and involves schools, programs and division-specific activities organized throughout the university.


Video recap: Year of Free Speech kickoff event featuring Chancellor Howard Gillman, Michelle Deutchman, Willie Banks, Tiffany López, Jun Jang and Megan Enciso.


Students, faculty and staff will have opportunities to develop their understanding both of the legal and philosophical foundations of free expression and academic freedom and of the importance of engaging across strong differences of opinion. This will be accomplished through a combination of:

  • universitywide briefings on the meaning and importance of these key concepts;
  • dialogue, debates and discussions about the meaning of free speech and academic freedom;
  • universitywide and unit-specific activities that showcase how scholarly norms should inform and frame discussions and debates among people who strongly disagree; and
  • the curation of materials useful as instructional resources or aids for further discussion.

All members of our UCI community are encouraged to embrace this Year on Free Speech and Academic Freedom and participate in these activities. We are a stronger and better institution the more each of us understands the foundation on which free speech and academic freedom stand.

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Programming and Events

Steering Committee

  • Willie Banks
    Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
  • Veronica Berrocal
    Professor, Donald Bren School of ICS
  • Michelle Deutchman
    Executive Director, UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement
  • Megan Enciso
    Student Affairs Director, Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing
  • Jun Jang
    President, Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine
  • Tiffany López
    Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts
  • Zoe Miller-Vedam
    President, Associated Graduate Students (AGS)
  • Lisa Naugle
    Chair, Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity and Academic Freedom
  • Austen Parrish
    Dean, School of Law
  • Georg Striedter
    Academic Senate Chair
    Professor, School of Biological Sciences
  • Lars Walton
    Associate Chancellor and Chief of Staff