File this under “Fascinating”.

California’s universities are a bastion of progressive indoctrination, to the point that many of its educators are fighting back on agenda-driven academia.

So, while it has just made a former Obama administration official its head, the UC Regents has just adopted a new policy that impacts free speech rules.

The right of faculty members to speak out on matters affecting their colleges and universities has long been viewed as central to the way academic freedom and shared governance are supposed to work in American higher education.

The University of California Board of Regents affirmed that right this month with an amendment to the system’s “Statement on the Professional Rights of Faculty.” In so doing, the board sought to undercut the impact of a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has been used in some cases to question the faculty right to speak out on institutional governance.

The new language states that faculty members have the “freedom to address any matter of institutional policy or action when acting as a member of the faculty whether or not as a member of an agency of institutional governance.”

While many faculty members might just assume that they have that right, the 2006 decision (which was not about higher education) led some courts to question such rights. That ruling, Garcetti v. Ceballos, was about a suit by a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles who was demoted after he criticized a local sheriff’s conduct to his supervisors. The Supreme Court ruled that First Amendment protections do not necessarily extend to public employees when they speak in capacities related to their jobs.

…Greg Pasternak, a professor of hydrology at the University of California at Davis who was involved in proposing the change to the board, sent around an e-mail to colleagues celebrating the change. “This is the greatest expansion in academic freedom in the history of the UC system, because all previous notions of academic freedom limited the application of the idea to just one’s area of scholarship,” he wrote.

“Prior to this, the biggest change was to no longer require ‘dispassionate’ scholarship. However, academic freedom is no longer shackled to scholarship. We are free to speak on all institutional matters, whether they are within our sphere of scholarship or not. We may do so using any forum or medium. Now go out and use your freedom to stir up brilliant controversies.”

It will be interesting to see if this policy will eventually be applied to the speech of the few conservative faculty members in the UC System.