Academic Freedom Policy

Date of Notice: 
Wed, 02/19/2014
Legislation, Resolution, or Policy Adoption: 
Policy Proposal
Current Status: 
Approved on 04/09/2014

Academic Freedom Policy



Section I:

1.1 WHEREAS on November 13, 2013 the University Senate moved that

"... the Senate Academic Freedom Work Group will continue to work with the University President to draft a strong academic freedom policy." [i]; and

1.2 WHEREAS the Senate Academic Freedom Work Group has worked with the University President and his staff, discussing important principles and presenting and discussing drafts in person and by email; and

1.3 WHEREAS the most recent draft of the Senate Academic Freedom Work Group has been presented to the President on March 3, 2014;

Section II:

2.1 BE IT HEREBY MOVED that the University Senate approves the Academic Freedom Policy proposal as stated below (and here attached):

Policy on Academic Freedom

The University of Oregon encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to the university community. The University of Oregon protects free speech through Policy No. 01.00.16. This policy on Academic Freedom builds on these existing commitments by recognizing the special contexts of scholarship, teaching, governance, and public service


a. SCHOLARSHIP.  The University's research mission requires that members of the UO community have autonomous freedom to conduct research and produce creative work, and to publish and disseminate that work, limited only by the standards and methods of accountability established by their profession and their individual disciplines.

b. TEACHING. The University's responsibility to help students to think critically and independently requires that members of the university community have the right to investigate and discuss matters, including those that are controversial, inside and outside of class, without fear of institutional restraint.  Matters brought up in class should be related to the subject of courses or otherwise be educationally relevant, as determined primarily by the faculty member in charge of the class.

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.

d. PUBLIC SERVICE. Public service requires that members of the university community have freedom to participate in public debate, both within and beyond their areas of expertise, and to address both the university community and the larger society with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, cultural, or other interest. In their exercise of this freedom, university community members have the right to identify their association or title, but should not claim to be acting or speaking on behalf of the University unless authorized to do so.


These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences.  Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.

Financial Impact: 
Cost neutral.

Michael Dreiling (Sociology), Senator

Legislative History: 

On 04/17/2013, the University Senate passed motion US12/13-34: Academic Freedom & Freedom of Speech

On 12/04/2013, the University Senate passed a motion on the floor to create an Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech Policy

On the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee, on 11/13/2013 the University Senate repealed motion US12/13-34 with the passage of US13/14-07: Rescind Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech Policy Proposal

January 7, 2014 report from the Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech Policy

February 12, 2014 report for Senator Michael Dreiling on Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech Policy

On April 9, 2014, this motion was amended on the floor of the University Senate prior to approval. Attached is a redlined version of the original motion.

President Gottfredson signed this policy on May 28th, 2014.