Statement of Professional Responsibility & Faculty Bill of Rights


(Approved by Academic Senate - March 11, l971)

Academic freedom is a special freedom, necessary to the mission of professors in a college or university. Professional responsibility is its logical correlative. As individuals, professors have the responsibility to conduct themselves in ways that will promote the achievement of the purposes for which academic freedom exists. And as members of a profession possessed of certain rights of self-government, professors as a group have an obligation to keep their houses in order and to take such steps as may be necessary to the fulfillment of their professional mission.

The primary purposes of a statement of professional responsibilities are positive, educational and constructive; not negative, disciplinary, and punitive. Such a statement is educational in that it attempts to articulate in explicit form those actions which may reasonably be expected of members of the profession. It is constructive in that it provides a standard by which members of the profession may measure their own behavior and a basis upon which they can provide positive, constructive criticism of their peers with a view to improving the profession, individually and collectively. Principles of professional behavior should not become the reference for disciplinary action unless a member clearly refuses to respond positively to constructive suggestions made in an orderly manner and clearly related to formally adopted standards of professional conduct. An apparent failure to meet professional responsibilities must be approached with a sustained attempt to inform, persuade, and improve. Disciplinary action, regardless of the degree of sanction it may impose, must in all cases be a last resort.

The responsibilities of a faculty member fall into five main areas: (1) to their subject; (2) to their students; (3) to the institution of which s/he is a part; (h) to their profession; and (i) to the community at large. (This statement presupposes full-time appointment; a few individual items may not be applicable to part-time appointees, e.g., assumption of governance functions.)

1. In fulfilling their responsibility to their subject, the faculty member should, to the best of their ability:

  • seek and state the truth in that subject or discipline as they see it.
  • safeguard from attacks both within and outside the profession, the freedom of their colleagues and students to inquire.
  • keep themselves abreast of developments in their field.
  • comment on the professional work of their colleagues only in appropriate place and manner.
  • base their professional judgments of their colleagues upon their contributions, actual or potential, to the subject, the institution, and the profession.
  • avoid conflicts of interest which restrict or prejudice their freedom of inquiry and teaching.

2. In fulfilling their responsibilities to their students, the faculty member should, to the best of their ability:

  • encourage and protect the students’ freedom of inquiry and expression in their pursuit of knowledge.
  • guard the classroom against external pressures,, and report instances or threats of interference and/or intimidation.
  • teach their subject to the student in accordance with the best standards of scholarship in the discipline.
  • respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student.
  • refrain from using their relationship with their students to exploit them for personal advantage.
  • entertain and deal reasonably with questions relevant to their subject which are raised in the classroom.
  • acknowledge properly any significant assistance which is received from their students.
  • meet their obligations to, and comment on the work of each student only in appropriate place and manner, with justice and consideration for each student.

The professor is obviously one agent among others in the personal development of students. Faculty influence them not only through their subject but through their own personal deportment and intellectual style, and it is the faculty's responsibility to keep this consideration in mind. It cannot be a requirement of membership in the scholarly community, however, that the scholar give up legal rights and personal liberties normally employed by other citizens. Any attempt to impose a uniform code of personal behavior on all members of the faculty endangers the foundations of free scholarship.

3. In fulfilling faculty responsibility to their institution, the faculty member should, to the best of their ability:

  • conform to the schedule of duties assigned to them, making exceptions only in accord with the policies of their institution.
  • present the subject matter of their courses as they have been approved and described by established curricular processes within the institution, with the freedom to select and present the material as they deem best.
  • accept and perform a reasonable share of committee assignments and other faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.
  • indicate, when circumstances require, that they are not acting as a spokesperson or representative of their institution or of the scholarly profession.
  • avoid any outside employment or other activity which conflicts, interferes, or is clearly inconsistent with their responsibilities as a teacher and scholar.
  • make appropriate use of time granted for professional purposes.
  • adhere to their agreements regarding the conditions of their employment.
  • refrain from improper use of the property of the institution.
  • fulfill their proper role in rendering fair and impartial judgments and recommendations regarding faculty and administrative appointments, reappointments, tenure, promotion, and disciplinary actions.
  • observe the stated rules and regulations of the institution, and refrain from willfully encouraging others to violate them, yet vigorously guard their right to criticize and their obligation to work toward the improvement of such rules and regulations.
  • recognize, when considering interruption or termination of their service, the effect of their decision on the program of the institution, and give due notice of their intentions.

It is the responsibility of the institution to see to it that burdens of governance do not fall so heavily on particular individuals that they find it difficult to meet their immediate obligations to their subjects or their students. It is equally a responsibility of the individual professor to see that they do not sacrifice any one major area of responsibility in an excessive concern with the others.

4. In fulfilling their responsibility to their professional colleagues and the profession at large, the faculty member should, to the best of their ability:

  • honestly and accurately represent their professional qualifications and their institutions.
  • interpret and use the writings, research, and findings of others with intellectual honesty.
  • refrain from assigning professional duties to persons who lack the professional qualifications demanded by the assignment.
  • accord just and equitable treatment to all members of the profession in their professional relationships with them, and support them when they are unjustly accused or mistreated.
  • express disagreement with professional colleagues when appropriate, and then with due regard to propriety of language, place, and audience; attacking issues, not individuals; using persuasion, not coercion or harassment; making criticism explicit, not implicit; avoiding even the suggestion of personal retribution.
  • protect and defend the educational program against undesirable encroachments from any source.

5. In fulfilling their responsibility to the community, the faculty member should, to the best of their ability:

  • bring their professional capabilities to bear on the improvement of their community.
  • share the responsibility for improving the educational opportunities for all.
  • promote conditions of free inquiry and further the understanding of academic freedom in the community.
  • exercise the rights and fulfill the obligations of a responsible citizen in the community.



(Approved by the Senate, Spring 1973)


The rights of the faculty derive from two sources: academic freedom and professional authority. Academic freedom exists by virtue of the fact that an educational institution cannot freely pursue the truth or freely teach without it. Professional authority derives from the specialized training and expertise of professors. As professionals, professors have the obligation to define the rights which they must have to carry out adequately the social function of pursuing and teaching the truth as they see it.

No right, however, whether it derives from academic freedom or professional authority, is absolute or without qualifications. There will be circumstances in which a given right does not hold, or is in some sense subject to qualification. No attempt has been made to build into this formulation all of the possible qualifications which may require expression in future particular circumstances.

These rights should be understood to stand in conjunction with the various formulated responsibilities found on the preceding pages of this section, responsibilities which are themselves subject to qualification and interpretation. Any question of interpretation either of rights or responsibilities should be taken to the Committee on Academic Freedom.


I. Concerning the Faculty as a Whole;
Within the Reasonable Constraints of the Law:

  1. The right and responsibility to determine the curricula of the college.
  2. The right and responsibility to determine the goals and objectives of courses, curricula and programs.
  3. The right and responsibility to set academic standards.
  4. The right and responsibility to determine the appropriate methods of teaching and appropriate class size.
  5. The right and responsibility to determine criteria for hiring, retention, tenure, and promotions.
  6. The right to tenure after a reasonable period of evaluation.
  7. The right to an effective voice in the selection of administrators.
  8. The right to and responsibility for determining standards of professional behavior.
  9. The right to and the responsibility for the full exercise and protection of academic freedom.
  10. The right to a democratically constituted faculty governance in which the professional authority and responsibility of the faculty is protected.

II. Concerning the Individual Faculty Member;
Within the Reasonable Constraints of the Law:

  1. The right to determine the specific structure, content, methods of teaching, and grading procedures in his/her classes.
  2. The right to an unbiased evaluation based solely on her/his professional qualifications, conduct, and teaching ability, including: (a) the right to adequate forewarning if her/his performance is not satisfactory, and (b) the right to call in an appeals body consisting of faculty outside of his/her department whenever s/he feels that personal bias, personality conflict, or animosity is entering the evaluation process.
  3. The right to following his/her professional conscience in deciding the direction of her/his research and teaching, including the right to freely innovate in class content, structure, and modes of teaching.
  4. The right to evaluate and criticize any facet of the college, or of the local, national, or international community as s/he sees fit without jeopardizing his/her professional advancement.
  5. The right to advocate any social, political, or religious philosophy in which s/he believes.
  6. The right to a campus environment in which independent unorthodox thinking, debate, and critical analysis is nurtured and protected.
  7. The right to a written statement of any special requirements of her/his academic appointment at the time of that appointment.
  8. The right to a written statement of any special conditions affecting his/her tenure or promotions at the time of evaluation reports.
  9. The right to participate fully in a democratically run department in which department policy is formulated by the department as a whole and implemented by an elected Chair.