University of Alaska President Emeritus Mark Hamilton

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In 2001, University of Alaska president Mark Hamilton made national headlines when he wrote a sternly worded memo declaring that freedom of speech on campus “CANNOT BE QUALIFIED” [emphasis original].

Hamilton retired from his position as University of Alaska president in 2010. However, his memo lives on in FIRE lore as the gold standard for a university president's response to a campus free speech controversy.

On this episode of So to Speak, we talk with Hamilton about his famous memo and what he makes of today’s campus free speech controversies. We also explore his illustrious career prior to becoming a university president, where he learned a thing or two about negotiation, talking across lines of difference, and defending the U.S. Constitution.

Hamilton has a master’s degree in English literature from Florida State University and taught English at West Point. He also spent 31 years in the U.S. Army, where he negotiated peace deals in El Salvador and Somalia, oversaw U.S. Army recruiting during the “be all you can be” era, and rose to the rank of Major General.

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