Free Expression and UNE's Mission

At UNE, we believe that free expression, open inquiry, and respectful debate are crucial to our mission — supporting healthy people, healthy communities, and a healthy planet. In accordance with these guiding principles, we cultivate a lively and robust marketplace of ideas that empowers members of our community to assess information, draw rational conclusions, and use that knowledge to build creative, effective solutions in a troubled world.

At the core of this belief is intellectual humility — a recognition that we all have a lot to learn from others with different knowledge and perspectives. This is true even if sometimes the process makes us feel uncomfortable or we encounter ideas with which we passionately disagree. The pursuit of knowledge is a journey. Discovery, debate, disagreement, and a willingness to change one’s mind are what make the journey so rewarding.

Commencement Addresses

Unity Through Adversity

2023 Commencement Speakers, UNE President James D. Herbert and Dr. Ronald. A. Crutcher speak about affecting positive social change through dialogue. By challenging your own beliefs with someone else’s, you can learn so much. No one has a monopoly on truth, and only by listening intently and by asking probing questions, can a consensus through consultation be reached.

See Ronald Crutcher’s complete Commencement address on YouTube

“Yea to it All”

2022 Commencement Speaker Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., and UNE President James D. Herbert, Ph.D., deliver empowering messages to UNE graduates. The two recognize that this is a time of extraordinary conflict and fragmentation, but our commitment to free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas gives students the tools to flourish and succeed in challenging times.

See Jonathan Haidt's complete Commencement address on YouTube

President Herbert’s Remarks

Universities as the Marketplace of Ideas

President Herbert advocates for universities as the apex marketplace of ideas at the 8th annual TEDxDirigo event.

Staff Assembly: Our Mission and the Marketplace of Ideas

President Herbert addresses UNE faculty and professional staff at the start of the academic year.

Student speaking at an event
A U N E student wearing a rainbow headband and bandana at a Portland Pride Parade
Students and President Herbert at the Women's March in 2021
A group of U N E students at a Women's March
A student in the crowd makes a comment during an Intersectionality Speaker lecture