The 1920s and 1930s were a period of struggle at the University of Pittsburgh, with no tenure or due process rights for faculty and an autocratic chancellor focused on fundraising. When, in 1934, professor Ralph Turner was abruptly dismissed from his post, AAUP and state investigations ensued and speculation abounded. Was Turner dismissed because of his dismissive attitude toward religion? Could a reason have been, as Turner asserted, his involvement with the student-run Liberal Club, which protested social policies of the day, or with the Pennsylvania Security League, which advocated for social change and sought to advance unemployment insurance, old age pensions, poor relief, minimum wages, and the abolition of child labor and sweatshops? Or was it his public lecture charging the affluent with “destroying a culture of true progress and freedom, imposing on others conditions that negatively impacted their talents, retarding scientific progress, lessening the pursuit of good intentions, and corrupting the overall purpose of education and human exploration”?
Find out in Curtis Good’s “The Dismissal of Ralph Turner: A Historical Case Study of Events at the University of Pittsburgh,” in the new Journal of Academic Freedom.