Academic Freedom

The right to academic freedom is the right of every faculty member.  Academic freedom is defined as the freedom of thought and expression as it applies to teaching, publication, oral presentation, and extramural activities. It includes the right of faculty members to choose and use materials that they deem appropriate to program or course goals in their classes without interference.

Institutions of higher education exist for the common good. The welfare and strength of United States University and of society at large depend on the uninhibited search for truth and its free expression.

Academic freedom is based upon the premise that scholars are entitled to immunity from coercion in matters of thought and expression, and on the belief that the mission of United States University can be performed only in an atmosphere free from administrative or political constraints and tolerant of thought and expression. Academic freedom is fundamental for the protection of the rights of both the faculty in teaching and the student in learning. Academic freedom is also essential to protect the rights of the faculty to freely discuss and debate all ideas, however controversial or unpopular, within United States University or before the broader community. The exercise of academic freedom cannot serve as cause for discipline, dismissal, or non-reappointment. Academic freedom does not include communication or material presented in class that constitutes discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal behavior, or encourages students or others to engage in criminal or unethical behavior.

In the event a faculty member’s choice of course materials is challenged, the burden will be on the challenger to establish by material evidence that the challenged material is academically inappropriate for the course. The College Dean will be the academic administrator charged with oversight of this process.

Determination as to the appropriateness of the course material in question will be made within 60 calendar days of the date that the College Dean receives written challenge to the academic appropriateness of the material in question.

Notwithstanding the broad right of faculty members to select and use academically appropriate materials for their courses, faculty members should be sensitive to the possibility that some students in a course may find certain materials to be personally offensive. Faculty members can elect to alert students at the beginning of their courses to any potentially controversial course materials.