Around Kirkwood

A Message from Kirkwood President Lori Sundberg

Kirkwood Community College

As you may be aware, it has come to light that Jeff Klinzman, an adjunct professor in our English Department, has received criticism for opinions he has expressed online and in the news media. Some of those opinions were expressed as far back as 2012, while another about the current President of the United States, was made more recently. The news of these opinions has drawn considerable attention from many inside and outside of the Kirkwood community just as we embark on a new school year.

Kirkwood Community College leadership has been assessing this matter in recent days, especially its potential impact on our learning environment.

With the safety of our students, faculty and staff as our top concern, we made the decision this morning to identify an instructor who will take over the one course that Mr. Klinzman was to have taught this semester. We have spoken with Mr. Klinzman this afternoon about this matter and have accepted his resignation.

I understand that our decision to remove Mr. Klinzman from the classroom may be supported by some and criticized by others. I also understand that in today’s climate, some may use this decision to support broader arguments about free speech on college campuses. That’s why I want to be very clear with you the reasoning behind this decision.

It is Kirkwood leadership’s assessment that the attention this matter has garnered has the potential to create an environment that is disruptive to our mission. Our decision to remove Mr. Klinzman from the classroom has nothing to do with the substance of his views or his right to express them. Rather, our decision is based solely on our commitment to fostering a safe learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.

I also want to be clear that Kirkwood Community College fully supports Mr. Klinzman’s right to articulate his views in whatever forum he chooses. This action does not in any way prevent him from continuing to engage in the expression of free speech. However, when the expression of views by him or any member of our community is perceived as placing public safety in jeopardy, or hampers our ability to deliver on our mission, we will always do what is necessary in service to our students’ pursuit of a higher education.
With that said, we want you to be aware of the actions we’re taking to ensure that when students arrive on campus on Monday morning, they are able to fully focus on their education.

  • Our security team will have a visible presence throughout campus on Monday morning and going forward. As always, members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department will be on campus as well.
  • Campus security and members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department are working together to develop and implement a safety plan. We are grateful for the CRPD’s ongoing support and assistance.
  • Jon Buse, vice president of Student Services and Jennifer Bradley, executive dean of the English, Arts and Humanities Department will visit the classroom first thing Monday morning to brief students on this matter and the steps being taken to ensure that their coursework can continue safely and without disruption.

While it was certainly not our goal to have the school year start on this note of distraction, we do want to do everything we can so you are fully aware of the facts, our position and steps we’ve taken to manage this matter in a way that supports our students and our mission.

And finally, we expect that this matter may be the subject of discussion on campus and here in town. We fully support those who wish to engage in debate and discussion about this matter. We are hopeful that the discussion happens civilly, safely and in a way that is not disruptive to the Kirkwood community. In a free society and especially in higher education, a lively, robust and free exchange of ideas is essential, after all.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with this update in response to the attention and messages we have received. We will continue to keep you apprised of this matter as necessary.