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3.7.4 Academic Freedom PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 06 September 2009 16:48

3.7.4 Academic Freedom

The institution ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom.

Responsible Unit: Division of Academic Affairs/Faculty Senate

Compliance Judgment



North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NCAT) ensures the protection and promotion of academic freedom through written policies and faculty governance procedures. Recognizing that the principles of academic freedom apply to faculty in the pursuit, creation, and dissemination of knowledge while respecting the dignity and rights of others, NCAT asserts the precepts in its local policies and affirms the academic freedom policies of The University of North Carolina System (UNC System). Policies regarding academic freedom are disseminated by means of the UNC Policy Manual [1] and the NC A&T Faculty Handbook [2]. The Faculty Senate, with its committee system, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost develop, refine, and implement procedures to carry out these policies.

The University of North Carolina System emphasizes the importance of tenure and academic freedom, stating that “The University of North Carolina is dedicated to the transmission and advancement of knowledge and understanding. Academic freedom is essential to the achievement of these purposes. The University therefore supports and encourages freedom of inquiry for faculty members and students, to the end that they may responsibly pursue these goals through teaching, learning, research, discussion, and publication, free from internal or external restraints that would unreasonably restrict their academic endeavors [3].” Research and teaching may challenge the established order. Tenure assures society that the pursuit of knowledge is guaranteed in the university.

Tenure is protected at NCAT as outlined in the Faculty Handbook in the Regulations on Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Due Process [4]. This policy guarantees multiple levels of input and separation of powers in the process of granting tenure. Promotion and tenure at NCAT also requires a vote of the above rank faculty within the candidate’s department/program or school as appropriate, but most importantly, the policy guarantees that an impartial university-wide committee reviews the candidate’s case closely to look for improprieties or irregularities. The tenure of a faculty member is protected as “A faculty member, who is the beneficiary of institutional guarantees of tenure, shall enjoy protection against unjust and arbitrary application of disciplinary penalties. During the period of such guarantees the faculty member may be discharged or suspended from employment or diminished in rank only for reasons of incompetence, neglect of duty, or misconduct of such a nature as to indicate that the individual is unfit to continue as a member of the faculty [5].” Discharge or the imposition of serious sanctions involves an appeal process that involves a faculty-driven hearing tribunal. The faculty member has full rights to appeal actions of administrators and has the opportunity to address concerns with the Faculty Hearing Committee.

The Post Tenure Review Policy describes a robust process of peer and administrative review required for continuous assessment of the performance of tenured faculty. It includes a full review and appeal process of any adverse decisions that might result in sanctions or termination [6]. An additional policy relevant to academic freedom is that on reviewing non-tenure track faculty [7].

In teaching, a faculty member has freedom in the classroom to discuss his or her views within the context of the course’s subject. Faculty members enjoy freedom in research and in publication of the results of their research. A policy relevant to academic freedom is the policy on research integrity, which protects academic freedom through its statement that “Misconduct does not include honest error, honest differences in interpretation or judgments of data, or disputes regarding authorship [8].” Outside the university, all NCAT employees have the right to speak or write as citizens in so far as they do not purport to be spokespersons for the university [9]. The aforementioned policies from the UNC System and NCAT embrace the academic freedom principles of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) expressed in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure [10].

The publication of policies (just like the granting of tenure) is insufficient in and of itself to guarantee the protection and safeguarding of academic freedom. Faculty must have an active voice in the creation of policies, in the hiring of university administrators, and in carrying out policies. Chapter IV of the Faculty Handbook clearly delineates the role of the Faculty Senate as an official voice of the general faculty [11]. Included in the purposes of the Faculty Senate are to be the legislative body of the faculty; recommend requirements for admission, courses of study/curricula and requirements for undergraduate and graduate degrees; recommend academic policies that impact respective educational programs of study; recommend and/or endorse the establishment or discontinuance of undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs; recommend faculty to serve on University-wide committees; nominate and elect faculty to serve on the Faculty Grievance Committees, the Hearing and Reconsideration Committee, and as delegates to the University of North Carolina Faculty Assembly; and recommend changes to the faculty handbook. Specifically, the Faculty Senate works with (and through) a series of committees to establish university policies and to safeguard academic freedom.

Supporting Documents

[1] UNC Policy Manual, Section 601, Academic Freedom

[2] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Table of Contents 2007 and Introduction

[3] UNC The Code, Chapter VI, Section 600

[4] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Appendix B-2, Regulations on Academic Freedom, Tenure and Due Process, 2007

[5] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Appendix B-2, Section 4, Regulations on Academic Freedom, Tenure and Due Process, Section 4, 2007

[6] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Faculty Handbook, Appendix B-3, Post Tenure Review Policy

[7] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Appendix B-2, Section 8. Regulations on Academic Freedom

[8] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Appendix C-4, Research Policies and Procedure:

[9] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Appendix B-2, Section 2. Regulations on Academic Freedom, 2007

[10] AAUP Policy: 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure

[11] NC A&T Faculty Handbook, Chapter IV, Faculty Governance, 2007

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 February 2010 15:57 )

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