Policy IV-H: Policy on Academic Freedom

Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good. The common good depends upon an uninhibited search for truth and its open expression. Hence, it is essential that each faculty member be free to pursue scholarly inquiry without undue restriction, and to voice and publish individual conclusions concerning the significance of evidence that he or she considers relevant. Each faculty member must be free from the corrosive fear that others, inside or outside the university community, because his or her vision may differ, may threaten his or her professional career or the material benefits accruing from it.

Each faculty member is entitled to full freedom in the classroom in discussing the subject which he or she teaches but is expected not to introduce into his or her teachings controversial matters which have no relation to the classroom subject. Each faculty member also is a citizen of the nation, state and community; and when speaking, writing or acting as such, must be free from institutional censorship or discipline, subject to academic responsibility as hereinafter set out, and the faculty member should make it clear that he or she is not speaking for the institution.

The concept of academic freedom for faculty must be accompanied by an equally demanding concept of academic responsibility of faculty. A faculty member has a responsibility to the institution, his or her profession, his or her students, and society at large. The rights and privileges of faculty members extended by society and protected by governing boards and administrators through written policies and procedures on academic freedom and tenure, and as further protected by the courts, require reciprocally the assumption of certain responsibilities by faculty members. Some of these follow below:

  • The fundamental responsibilities of a faculty member as a teacher and scholar include maintenance of competence in his or her field of specialization and the exhibition of such professional competence in the classroom, studio or laboratory, and in the public arena by such activities as discussions, lectures, consulting, publications or participation in professional organizations and meetings.
  • The exercise of professional integrity by a faculty member includes recognition that the public will judge his or her profession and institution by his or her statements. Therefore, the faculty member should strive to be accurate, to exercise appropriate restraint, to be willing to listen to and show respect for others expressing different opinions, and to avoid creating the impression that the faculty member speaks or acts for his or her college when speaking or acting as a private person.
  • The constitutionally protected right of the faculty member, as a citizen, to freedom of expression must be balanced with the interest of the state, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the educational services it performs through its employees. A faculty member's comments are protected even though he or she may be highly critical in tone or content, or erroneous, but such statements are not protected free speech if he or she either substantially impede the faculty member's performance of his or her daily duties or materially and substantially interfere with the regular operation of the institution, or if he or she are part of a continuing pattern of expression of such nature as to destroy the harmony and morale of a division, department or college. False statements made with the knowledge of his or her falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth are not entitled to constitutional protection, and public statements may be so without foundation as to call into question the fitness of the faculty member to perform his or her professional duties.
  • A faculty member should be judicious in the use of controversial material in the classroom and should introduce such material only as it has clear relationship with his or her subject field.
  • A faculty member should be professional in his or her conduct in the classroom and in his or her relationship with students. The faculty member should maintain respect for the student and for the student's posture as a learner. The faculty member should make himself or herself appropriately available to the student for consultation on course work.
  • A faculty member has the responsibility to provide timely and adequate notice of his or her intention to interrupt or terminate institutional services.

(Effective March 2, 1987)