Send Your Nominations for the 2024 MTC Lysenko Award

It’s time again for the Minding the Campus (MTC) Trofim Lysenko Award for the Suppression of Academic Speech. Named after the notorious Stalinist pseudoscientist whose crackpot agronomist theories—and persecution of those with the temerity to challenge them—led to the deaths of millions, the MTC Lysenko Award calls attention to those in academia who promote or advocate the silencing of academic inquiry and speech, especially where the motive for doing so is based on political disagreement.

Past recipients of the award have included Williams College professor and department chair Phoebe Cohen, one of the keyboard commandos behind the online mob that led the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to shamefully cancel its invitation of the University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot to present MIT’s annual Carlson Lecture—in which Prof. Abbot would have discussed “Climate and the Potential for Life on Other Planets.”

Williams and her fellow harpies sought to deplatform Dr. Abbot because he wrote that university hiring and admissions should be based on individual merit, not on identity group membership. When asked by the New York Times whether she had any concerns about academic freedom and robust debate, she dismissed such concerns, reasoning that “[t]his idea of intellectual debate and rigor as the pinnacle of intellectualism comes from a world in which white men dominated.” Prof. Abbot had the last laugh as Princeton hosted his lecture—thousands attended online—and the negative publicity from the imbroglio forced MIT to revisit its free speech policies.

Kansas University (KU) School of Law Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Leah Terranova, who brazenly attempted to strongarm the KU Federalist Society to cancel a seminar by noted First Amendment attorney and legal scholar Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom, has also received the reward. While unsuccessful—unlike cowardly MIT department chair Robert van der Hilst, who caved to the Twitter mob and cancelled Dorian Abbot’s appearance, the KU Federalist Society leadership refused to be intimidated—her actions led Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall to resign in disgust from his longstanding adjunct professor position at the school and to excoriate the KU Law administration for its shocking abandonment of free speech and inquiry principles.

Past “dishonorable mentions” have included MIT’s Robert van der Hilst, University of Pennsylvania Law School dean Theodore Ruger, Georgetown Law School dean William Treanor, the University of North Texas, Princeton University, and Saint Vincent College.

MTC is currently collecting nominees for the next Lysenko Award and will choose a slate of disreputable candidates from such nominees. This time, however, MTC will present the list of contenders in a future article and have its readers vote on which one receives the award.

So, if you know of a worthy potential recipient, someone in academia who tries to prevent or punish academic speech and inquiry for political reasons, submit your nominations along with a short explanation of why you think they deserve to be considered for this survey by June 7, 2024.

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain


  • Louis K. Bonham

    Louis K. Bonham is an intellectual property litigator. He is a graduate of the University of Texas (BA ’83, JD ’86), was an Articles Editor on the Texas Law Review, and served as a law clerk to the Hon. Edith H. Jones of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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7 thoughts on “Send Your Nominations for the 2024 MTC Lysenko Award

  1. How about all of the climate “scientists” who brook no dissent on “the settled science” (what an abomination that statement is – it completely negates the meaning of actual science)? I’d love to see a Lysenko Award handed to these people, or perhaps the mental midgets pretending that physics simulations have some sort of predictive value (I’ve worked with lots of physics simulators and am fully aware of how they’re tuned to particular data, and how they offer results in line with what their creators intended).

  2. The UCLA DEI Dean would be my candidate as corrupting medical school admissions is more dangerous than idiotic Fine Arts types could ever be.

  3. I nominate the UMass Amherst Faculty Senate, which voted “no confidence” in Chancellor Javier Rayes for having the illegal campsite removed and the campers arrested.

    First, I have no doubt that UMass knows exactly how much all that wood weighed — they will have weighed the trucks going in and out of the IPF to dispose of it, and from there it’s sixth grade math (if there isn’t a computer to automatically do that for you by truck number, and I suspect there might be).

    So he had over a TON of scrap wood & pallets, fastened together with steel wire, surrounding an illegal encampment. There was no clear path in or out, no way to deal with a fire or fight, and reports of perps up in trees “to defend the encampment.” He already had reports of one Jewish student being physically assaulted, there have been Jewish students physically attacked earlier this year, and he’s already asked them nicely to leave. What is he supposed to do?!?

    These faculty are claiming that protesting and illegal occupations are a “core UMass value.” Silly me — I thought that EDUCATION was the core UMass value — and that the institution had put “ZooMass” in the past…

    “A total of 134 people were arrested. Of those, approximately 70 have been identified as UMass students and 6 as faculty. Nearly 60 of the arrested individuals were neither students, faculty, nor staff of the university”

    58 is 43% — people with no affiliation with the university, being arrested for violating university regulations. There were six professors arrested — why haven’t they been FIRED?!? (Yea, this was “moral turpitude” and that’s one of the three grounds to fire a tenured professor — the other two being financial exigency and lack of need.)

    But it’s really the doublespeak — these tenured radicals speaking about “nonviolent” protesters who were really anything but, and “violent” arrests from cops who were openly stating that they’d prefer not to have to arrest anyone.

    1. I agree. Any professor who gets arrested for engaging in activities on campus should be immediately terminated. With prejudice.

      1. Well, not quite immediately — UMass has two professors with the same first and last name, the one in History was arrested and the one in Economics wasn’t, so you need to make sure that you are firing the right one, but otherwise, yes.

        The official UM response is “I cannot comment on the internal personnel matters regarding the staff and faculty arrested at this time.” At least that holds out the possibility of them being fired.

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