Turner, Harris & Colodny: Academic Freedom in Pittsburgh
In 1934, Ralph Turner lost his job at the University of Pittsburgh on what can only be called the infringement of his academic freedom rights. Roy Harris, a professor and composer-in-residence at the Pennsylvania College for Women, suffered similar persecution in 1951 but kept his job. Less than 10 years later, again at the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Robert Colodny's position was jeopardized by accusations that he had Communist sympathies.
In short, in less than 30 years, the city of Pittsburgh saw three, fairly high profile cases in which academic freedom was compromised or called into question. Ralph Turner was not reinstated in his position, and yet, in the other two cases, both Harris and Colodny retained their jobs. What changed in thirty years to make the cases so different and have different outcomes? A lot of the reason is inherent to the development of academic freedom and the changes it has faced in its relatively short history. Most of this history revolves around the involvement of the American Association of University Professors (henceforth known as the AAUP). It is obvious that as the AAUP became more powerful, academic freedom became a more prevalent and important issue not only to those in the academic profession, but to society as a whole. Additionally, the rise of the mass media also played a significant role. These elements, combined with the more specific details of each case, are what caused the three cases to conclude differently.