The minority shall not suffer under the tyranny of the majority. This statement has been a pillar of American democracy since our country’s inception. The setting of a university campus should encourage dialogue, debate, and diplomacy. As a Regent for the University of Nebraska system, I will uphold the First Amendment for all students, faculty, Administration, or blue-collar workers. We all shall have the right to free speech.
As an American citizen and a veteran of the United States Army who has served during the era of the Cold War, I will do my best not to allow any one person or group to try to overthrow the United States Government. Also, we must be ever vigilant from any one person or group from within the United States or from foreign lands that seek to incite hatred, riots, and/or violence on our beautiful and peaceful campuses. I believe we have a civic duty to listen to as many viewpoints on critical issues that face our country. We may not agree with every viewpoint, but, we can reach common ground and attain a healthy and vibrant society by allowing public forums.
Academicians and students within the University of Nebraska system, shall have the right to pursue higher learning and truths. Of course, research and studies conducted on any campus, or area within the state of Nebraska, within the United States, or in any country around the world, must adhere to a strong code of ethics. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Nebraska system is a fine, operable, regulatory body that can safeguard any violations of ethics.
With respect to any current or proposed research contracted with the Department of Defense (DOD) or any other U.S. Government agency, I would like to point out that I would be the logical choice among any Regent candidate. First, allow me to reiterate that I am a veteran with an honorable discharge. I have a proven background in the U.S. military. And second, I have three degrees in science from the University of Nebraska system. A total accumulation of B.S. Biology and M.A. Biology from UNO, and a Ph.D. Geography from UNL.
There are times when an academician and/or student may want to research a subject that is not popular with their department, college, university, or discipline. For example, when I was in pursuit of my Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, my dissertation subject was how American paleontology was largely built on paleontological resources dispossessed from the Great Sioux Nation. I had to document, and photograph fossil specimens housed at museums and universities in the United States. This would include the wonderful fossil collection at the University of Nebraska. The very idea of my dissertation came to me after the University of Nebraska State Museum (UNSM) and the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) collected a plesiosaur form the Santee Sioux Reservation in May of 2003 and did not consult with the Santee Sioux tribal council what-so-ever. As my research advanced, I found out UNSM and NDOR had dispossessed hundreds and thousands of fossils from Native American reservations for many years.
My dissertation topic was not popular among many alumni, colleagues, professors, or administrative personnel at the University of Nebraska. I had faced barriers, discrimination, and roadblocks along the way. Yet, through diligence and perseverance my research was approved and passed by a doctoral committee of the most learned professors in and outside of the University of Nebraska. Ultimately, I published my dissertation, Dinosaurs and Indians, and provided a testimonial on how a scientist can prevail when they seek a higher truth in an ethical manner.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) faced charges of heresy and was persecuted and endured years of house arrest for his research in certain areas of science. As I have taught Environmental Geology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for two decades now, I relay to my students reports of current scientists from other countries that are put under house arrest and not allowed to collect their well-deserved Nobel Prize(s) in fields of science because their respective government does not agree with their research. To a certain extent, suppression of science does occur within the United States of America. As the political pendulum swings back and forth over time, science in the U.S. either receives funding, or it endures cuts. Through the years the United States has lagged behind other countries in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). We find ourselves outsourcing for large projects and recruiting foreign students who are well adverse in STEM. I do not mind foreign students, but, I want American students to have a level playing field within their own state universities. This demands that graduates of the University of Nebraska system have a basic understanding of climate change, global warming, theory of evolution, etc.
At this point I must inform you that I have recently been appointed as Chair of Immigration for a local division of a nonprofit national organization. I do indeed think that students and “Dreamers” of the DACA program provide a positive role for our university and state.
As Regent for District 4, I will strongly defend and uphold academic freedom and standards of science. I know how it feels to be ostracized for providing an original contribution to science for the world to scrutinize. I know how it feels to have my research topic face suppression. I must be careful not to become the very person I despise when I do not agree with certain scientific studies taking place within the University of Nebraska system. I will ensure there are checks and balances for ethical scientific conduct. That means more then one voice. That means freedom for academics and science for all.