Section 3: Academic Freedom
Centenary College has a strong tradition of intellectual freedom. It subscribes to the following view of the United Methodist Church: "Our role is not to suppress ideas, but to open channels of communication, so that people can come to know the thoughts of their neighbors, and so that the best thoughts of all men and women can come to be the possessions of everyone." (General Conference, 1952). Centenary finds this view consistent with the 1940 AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which states, in part, that
Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.
Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights.
Tenure is a means to certain ends, specifically: 1) freedom of teaching and research and of extramural activities, and 2) a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability. Freedom and economic security, hence, tenure, are indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society.
- Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
- Teachers are entitled to full freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
- College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution. (AAUP Policies and Documents Reports, 9th ed., 2001, pp. 3-4)
Centenary faculty should be cognizant of these principles, which emphasize both the freedom and responsibility of faculty members, both tenured and non-tenured, and incorporate them into their teaching.
Academic freedom cases arise when faculty members allege that an employee of Centenary College or a member of the Board of Trustees has acted to infringe upon their freedom of teaching, research, writing or extramural activities. In an allegation of violation of academic freedom, there must be a specific and clear connection between an infringement of academic freedom in teaching, research, writing or an extramural activity and the behavior of a person or persons acting in official capacity as an employee of Centenary College or a member of the Board of Trustees. In cases of denial of tenure or reappointment, an allegation of procedural error or other failure to apply appropriate criteria fairly will not in itself be the basis for an academic freedom complaint.
Faculty members who believe their academic freedom has been violated should immediately consult confidentially in written form with the Chairperson of the Faculty Appeals Committee and the Chairperson of the Faculty Coordinating Council, who will review the evidence for the alleged violation and follow the procedure established in Section 13 of the Faculty Handbook. (5/2007)
Updated May 9, 2007.