On Academic Freedom

Western Carolina University

Summary with reference to SACS

G. Jones, 3/19/06


Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement

3.7.4 The institution ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting

academic freedom.

Western Carolina University
is in compliance with this standard.

Western Carolina University
ensures protections of academic freedom by its organization under the Code of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, by its incorporation of the principles of academic freedom into its Faculty Handbook, and by its active participation in officially recognized faculty governance organizations at both the local and state-wide levels.

A. The Code of the University of North Carolina states that the University of North Carolina is dedicated to transmitting and advancing knowledge and understanding and considers academic freedom essential to 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.
  • The University and each constituent institution shall protect faculty and students in their responsible exercise of the freedom to teach, to learn, and otherwise to seek and speak the truth.
  • Faculty and students of the University of North Carolina shall share in the responsibility for maintaining an environment in which academic freedom flourishes and in which the rights of each member of the academic community are respected.

Section 602 of The Code further states that to promote and protect academic freedom, the Board of Trustees at each constituent institution must adopt policies and regulations governing academic tenure.  Tenure and promotion policies adopted by the Board of Trustees go into effect upon review by the senior vice president for academic affairs and the vice president and general counsel, and approval by the president of the UNC system.


Reference:  The Code Sections 600, 601, and 602 (online at http://www.northcarolina.edu/content.php/policies/CHAPTER_VI_only_web.htm


B. Academic Tenure Policies and Regulations of Western Carolina University also incorporate the principles set forth in Section 601 of The Code, encouraging full freedom, within the law, of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication for all members of the academic staff.  Further, the university shall not penalize faculty members because of the exercise of academic freedom in lawful pursuit of scholarly and professional interest and responsibility.

Reference:  WCU Faculty Handbook, 4.02.01 Tenure Policies and Regulations of Western Carolina University, Sections I and II (online at http://www.wcu.edu/fachandbook/, 7/19/2005)





C.  Both the WCU Faculty Senate and the state-wide Faculty Assembly actively support the principle of academic freedom.  For example, Western’s Faculty Senate adopted unanimously in September of 2002 the following resolution concerning academic freedom:



WHEREAS it is the duty of university boards, administrators, and faculty to resist politicizing institutions of learning,

WHEREAS the considered professional judgment of scholars, not politicians or legislators, must determine academic content and curricula,

WHEREAS it is the responsibility of universities to prepare students to become effective citizens in a global society,

WHEREAS the university owes its students opportunities to go to the source of controversial ideas,

WHEREAS academic freedom becomes a necessity, not a luxury, in times of war even more than times of peace,

WHEREAS the reputation of a university, as well as its accreditation, depends upon its ability to withstand legislative incursions into its domain,

THEREFORE WE RESOLVE to reaffirm the value of academic freedom,

AND to strive for a society based on genuine understanding,

AND to commend the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, President Broad, and all servants of the public good for their courageous defense of academic freedom in the face of economic and political pressures.

(Unanimously adopted September 15, 2002)



Examples of resolutions adopted by the state-wide Faculty Assembly—a faculty representative body of which Western is an active member—can be found at the following Web sites: