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Academic Freedom and Faculty Responsibility

Academic Freedom and Faculty Responsibility Heading link

The responsibilities of full-time members of the academic staff to the university are fulfilled by the performance—appropriate to rank and terms of appointment—of teaching, scholarly research, continuing education and public service, and committee work and special assignments.

Universities exist to serve the common good and not primarily to further the interests of either individuals or institutions. The basic functions of the University of Illinois are teaching, research, and public service. By accepting a faculty appointment at this university, an individual assumes a responsibility to pursue scholarly activities which necessitate free inquiry, free expression, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity and rights of others, and openness to change. The rights and responsibilities exercised within the academic community must be compatible with these characteristics.

Academic freedom is essential to the functioning of a university. It applies to its teaching, research, and public service and involves both the faculty and students. Faculty members are responsible for providing students with the same kind of freedom that they claim for themselves, namely, the freedom to consider conflicting views and to make their own evaluations of data, evidence, and doctrines. Furthermore, faculty members have a responsibility to maintain an atmosphere conducive to intellectual inquiry and rationale.

Faculty members are expected to teach their assigned courses in a manner consistent with the scheduled time, course content, and course credit as approved by the faculty. Within these constraints, they are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing—according to their areas of competence—the subjects that they are assigned. Faculty members who are unable to meet their classes have the obligation to offer alternate instruction to meet the course requirements. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, their department or college must assume this responsibility. Since university policy calls for the comparison of a student’s performance with those of other students in the university for the several purposes that grades serve, faculty members have the responsibility to provide the university with an evaluation of the work of each student in their classes.

Faculty members are citizens as well as members of a learned profession and an educational

institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline. As citizens, faculty members have the rights common to all citizens to organize and join political or other associations, convene and conduct public meetings, peacefully demonstrate, picket, and publicize their opinions on political or social issues. In exercising these rights, they should not use the services of the university, and any indication of university affiliation should be accompanied by a statement that it is for identification purposes only.

Each faculty member has the right to criticize and seek alteration of regulations and policies by appropriate means. Among means deemed inappropriate are committing or inciting acts of physical violence against or coercion of individuals; acts that interfere with academic freedom, freedom of speech, or freedom of movement; and acts of destruction of property.

Alleged abuse of the proper role of the faculty with regard to academic freedom and faculty responsibility should be identified and adjudicated by appropriate faculty bodies already in existence in the university community in accordance with established principles and procedures of due process. In accordance with University of Illinois Statutes, these evaluations are initially made by departmental administrators with the counsel of faculty bodies; subsequent evaluation is made by academic deans, campus- and university-level administrators, and the board of trustees with adequate counsel of faculty bodies. At the campus level, the Faculty Advisory Committee and the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure are charged to advise the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, which is charged to advise the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, in both the judicial and review processes.