Academic Freedom, Free Speech and Diversity

Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibilities

Approved by the Faculty Senate February 6, 2012.  Approved by the Provost.

Applies to all full- and part-time faculty not represented by collective bargaining.


A.  Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom is essential for the proper development of the University. It functions to protect the institution from unwarranted interference by external groups and to ensure the retention of the services of those whose contributions toward its goals make them an essential part of the faculty. In doing so, it secures the autonomy and integrity of the University and makes its development as an intellectual community an object of primary concern.

Academic Freedom is the unqualified right of every faculty member whether or not that person possesses tenure. It carries a reciprocal obligation to respect and maintain the academic freedom of every other member of the University community.

Academic Freedom is the freedom to teach, both in and outside the classroom; to conduct research and to publish, display or perform the results of those investigations; and to address any matter of institutional policy or action whether or not as a member of an agency of institutional governance.  Faculty should also have the freedom to address the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, or other interest, without institutional discipline, save in response to fundamental violations of professional ethics, statements that suggest disciplinary incompetence, or violations of their professional responsibilities as described below.

Faculty are entitled to freedom to teach, profess and discuss material in the classroom subject to limits listed under professional responsibilities.  Further, the University shall not restrict in any manner (or punish in any way after the fact) a faculty member's ability to criticize the University or its acts or policies (subject to limits listed under professional responsibilities and the reciprocal obligation to respect and maintain the academic freedom of every other member of the University community).

B.  Professional Responsibilities

Faculty, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, shall recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and state the truth as they see it. To this end, faculty members shall devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They have an obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge. They shall practice intellectual honesty. Although the faculty member may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.

As teachers, faculty members shall encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They shall hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Faculty members shall demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Faculty members shall make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student's true merit. They shall avoid any exploitation, harassment or discriminatory treatment of students. They shall acknowledge significant or scholarly assistance from students.

As colleagues, faculty members have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. They shall respect and defend the free inquiry of associates and shall not discriminate against or harass colleagues. In the exchange of criticism and ideas, faculty shall show due respect for the opinions of others. Faculty shall acknowledge academic debts and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues.

In making public statements, including the right to responsible dissent on matters of institutional policy or educational philosophy, faculty have an obligation to be accurate, to exercise appropriate restraint, to show respect for the opinions of others and to make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the University.