In his communication to the administration, the director apologized to the university community for any harm that may have come to it and cited personal and professional reasons, including safety concerns, for the cancellation.
In response, Tom Buchanan, president of the University of Wyoming, said, "I appreciate the consideration for the university that the re-evaluation demonstrated." Buchanan thanked the director for taking this initiative and for his willingness to respect the interests of the UW community, including statewide constituencies.
"Re-evaluation of this event was unavoidable. One way or the other, this event needed to be revisited, and I respect the director for being willing, on his own, to cancel this invitation. I'm satisfied with the outcome," Buchanan said.
He continued, "Academic freedom is a core principle of any institution of higher education. But with that freedom comes an obligation to exercise free thought and free speech in concert with mutual respect and acknowledgment of broader resource and security impacts on the campus. The exercise of freedom requires a commensurate dose of responsibility.
"Observers in and outside of the university would be incorrect to conclude that UW simply caved in to external pressure. Rather, I commended the director of the center for a willingness to be sensitive to the outpouring of criticism, evaluate the arguments, and reconsider the invitation.
"The University of Wyoming is one of the few institutions remaining in today's environment that garners the confidence of the public. The visit by Professor Ayers would have adversely impacted that reputation.
"During the past few days, controversy over Professor Ayers's visit has been intense. While this episode illustrated an opportunity to hear and critically evaluate a variety of ideas thoughtfully, through open, reasoned, and civil debate, it also demonstrates that we must be mindful of the real consequences our actions and decisions have on others."
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2010