Lieberwitz Appointed

Professor passionate about academic freedom helps lead national group
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The American Association of University Professors has appointed ILR Professor Risa L. Lieberwitz as its general counsel.

In her two-year term, which began July 1, Lieberwitz will work with the organization's legal staff to advise on higher education legal issues; prepare amicus briefs and monitor legal developments in higher education around the country.

Lieberwitz will also examine emerging legal issues that could have implications in areas such as academic freedom, labor and employment law, freedom of expression and intellectual property rights.

"My passion for academic freedom originates in my study of freedom of speech and due process at the workplace," Lieberwitz said.

"Then, my experience of being a faculty member and becoming active in faculty governance sparked my interest in learning more about the historical development of academic freedom."

"This led to my research agenda on academic freedom, which included studying the history of the AAUP," she said.

Founded in 1915, after widespread dismissals of university professors because of political views, the group is based in Washington, D.C.

The association helped shape American higher education by developing standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in colleges and universities, Lieberwitz said.

"I am honored to be chosen as general counsel," she said. After nearly 100 years, the organization "remains the preeminent voice for faculty rights of academic freedom, due process and shared governance in higher education."

A member of the nonprofit association's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2012 to 2014, Lieberwitz will continue as an ILR professor of labor and employment law while serving in the new post.

She began at ILR in 1982 after working as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Atlanta, Ga. She was a member of the Cornell Faculty Senate from 1996 to 2004 and currently serves on the senate's University Faculty Committee.

Lieberwitz is a member of the executive committee of the Worker Institute at Cornell and is a co-director of the Cornell University Law and Society minor.

Lieberwitz's ILR course offerings include labor and employment law, constitutional law, employment discrimination law and arbitration.

She has also taught international and comparative conceptions of equality at the Cornell Law School's Comparative Law Institute in Paris, France.

She has written widely in all these fields, and in recent years turned her research and writing focus toward issues of academic freedom, university governance and the trend in higher education toward university corporatization.

Her published articles include "University-Industry Relations in the U.S.: Serving Private Interests" in Academic Freedom In Conflict: The Struggle Over Free Speech Rights in the University (James L. Turk, ed. 2014); "Faculty in the Corporate University: Professional Identity, Law, and Collective Action" in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (2007); and "Confronting the Privatization and Commercialization of Academic Research: An Analysis of Social Implications at the Local, National, and Global Levels" in the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies (2005).