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Furman President Smolla Writes Book about Constitution and Higher Education

Mar 31, 2011

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GREENVILLE, SC  March 30, 2011 - Furman University president Rod Smolla has written a new book that examines the constitutional principles and ideas that have shaped American higher education.  

"The Constitution Goes to College: Five Constitutional Ideas That Have Shaped the American University" is being published in April by NYU Press.

A nationally recognized constitutional law scholar, Smolla (pictured left) writes that because American college campuses are places where ideas are freely exchanged, contested and uncensored, they have always been hotbeds of political and social turmoil.  The constitution and American higher education have a symbiotic relationship in which constitutional principles are shaped by campus culture and constitutional values influence the nature of universities.

Drawing on landmark cases and conflicts played out on college campuses, Smolla demonstrates how five key constitutional ideas—the living Constitution, the division between public and private spheres, the distinction between rights and privileges, ordered liberty, and equality—are not only contested on college campuses, but also dominate the shape and identity of American university life.

Richard W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education and chair of the Furman Board of Trustees, writes that “Smolla displays a special grasp of issues our college students face that are affected by the Constitution of the United States.  He has given deep and clear thought to the relationship between the two and shares his unique knowledge in a practical way.”

Stanley Fish, professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, calls Smolla’s book a “virtual user’s manual for anyone who is interested in the intersection of two great American institutions, the law and the academy. Smolla displays an assured and deep learning, and yet his writing is always accessible and jargon free even when he ventures into territories where jargon has been the rule.”

A scholar, teacher, advocate and writer, Smolla is one of America’s foremost experts on issues relating to freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of the press.  Prior to coming to Furman, he served as dean of the law schools at the University of Richmond and Washington and Lee.

A graduate of Yale University and Duke University Law School, the Chicago native has presented arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court and has testified before committees of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  He is a frequent media commentator and author of numerous books, including "Deliberate Intent: A Lawyer Tells the True Story of Murder by the Book," "Free Speech in an Open Society," and "Jerry Falwell v. Larry Flynt:  The First Amendment on Trial."

More information is available by visiting the NYU Press website.