Comprehensive Standard 3.7.4: Academic Freedom
The institution ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom.
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USF Sarasota-Manatee) ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom through appropriate regulations, policies, publications, and philosophy.
Florida Board of Governor’s BOG Regulation 1.001(5a) in describing the powers of boards of trustees asserts that “each board of trustees shall provide for the establishment of the personnel program…” for faculty “… which may include . . . academic freedom and responsibility”.
The USF Board of Trustees chose to develop faculty personnel rules with the guidance of the principles of academic freedom and responsibility. Under USF System Regulation 10.100, entitled Faculty Personnel Matters, and under USF System Policy 10-050, entitled Academic Freedom and Responsibility, the USF System affirms the concept of the University “as a community of scholars united in the pursuit of truth and wisdom in an atmosphere of tolerance and freedom.”
These documents define academic freedom as “the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, to speak freely on all matters of university governance, and to speak, write, or act as a public citizen without institutional discipline or restraint” (USF System Regulation 10.100(1b) and USF System Regulation 10-050, Section II). Both the faculty and the administration assume responsibilities regarding the exercise of academic freedom and responsibility.
USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Faculty Senate operates according to the principles of shared governance and serves as the main channel of communication between the faculty and the administration of USF Sarasota-Manatee.
The USF/United Faculty of Florida Collective Bargaining Agreement’s CBA Article 5 also addresses academic freedom. Faculty members may follow the grievance procedure in CBA Article 20 of the CBA, if they believe that USF Sarasota-Manatee personnel have violated the faculty’s academic freedom.
The importance and inclusion of academic freedom in principle and practice is evident throughout USF Sarasota-Manatee. As an example, the Guidelines and Procedures for Tenure and Promotion contain the following statement:
In order for the University to perform its functions effectively, it is essential that faculty members feel free to express new ideas and divergent viewpoints in their teaching and research. In the process of teaching and research, there must be freedom to question and challenge accepted ‘truths.’ A university must create an atmosphere that encourages faculty members to develop and share different ideas and divergent views and to make inquiries unbounded by present norms. Tenure contributes significantly to the creation of such an atmosphere.
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION AND EVIDENCE