President Eisgruber sends letter of support to Central European University in Hungary

Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber on Saturday sent a letter of support to the head of the Central European University, expressing concern over legislation proposed by the Hungarian government that could close the university.

Eisgruber sent the letter to Michael Ignatieff, president and rector of CEU in Budapest. Eisgruber said he is "deeply concerned that the Hungarian government has proposed legislation that appears intended to shut down the Central European University."

"Though the legislation comes disguised in neutral categories, its key provisions affect only one university," said Eisgruber, a constitutional scholar. "No one should be deceived: the legislation is an unconscionable attack upon academic freedom, and all friends of free speech and civil society should recognize and oppose it as such."

The legislation was introduced in the Hungarian Parliament on Tuesday. CEU said the legislation would make it impossible for the university to continue its operations as an institution of higher education in Budapest.

"Any legislative change that would force CEU to cease operation in Budapest would damage Hungarian academic life and negatively impact the government of Hungary's relations with its neighbors, its EU partners and with the United States,” Ignatieff said.

Central European University was founded in 1991 and is accredited in both the United States and Hungary. It offers master's and doctoral programs in the social sciences, the humanities, law, management and public policy. It has approximately 1,400 students and 370 faculty members from more than 130 countries.

Eisgruber said many Princeton faculty members have worked closely with CEU, and he noted that he co-directed a joint Princeton/CEU project on international human rights.

"I know that many of my colleagues here at Princeton join me in hoping that the Central European University will be able to continue its valuable work despite this assault upon it," Eisgruber said.