Academic Freedom

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  • Shepherd University is committed to academic freedom.
  • Academic freedom functions within Shepherd University’s mission statement and statement of faith. Specifically, within the mission statement, the faculty member takes the role of being a Christian leader in order to model Christian leadership to students.
  • Faculty members, as well as students, are free to hold and express opinions about material offered in their courses, and this right must not be impinged on by threats, force, or other intimidation; however, students have the right to disagree with the conduct or content of courses and to seek change, but such freedom does not include the right to disrupt orderly classroom activities or to avoid fulfillment of the expectations within the course; however, academic freedom for faculty members must include a means for seeking the censure or dismissal of students guilty of disruption, destruction, or unethical classroom behavior.
  • Academic freedom for faculty members includes the right to judge and grade the academic performance of students.
  • Academic freedom includes the right of students to be fairly and competently evaluated and graded. Punitive grading is not acceptable except in cases of cheating or plagiarism.
  • Students have the right to the instruction promised them in official university publications.
  • It is not inappropriate for faculty and students, both in and out of classes, to meet and share their views on a wide spectrum of intellectual and social issues. It is proper for students to seek, and faculty to choose, professionally responsible ways to relate subject matter of courses to those social crises that arise temporarily and unpredictably.
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  • In the event of temporary departures from the normal course of instruction to discuss campus issues or community problems, faculty should make reasonable efforts to find ways of making up for missed material. In most foreseeable and general circumstances, instruction is to take place at the time and location indicated in university publications except in common academic practices such as field trips, classes meeting off-campus by prior arrangement, and experimental course procedures approved by the department, for which students have received notice prior to registration.
  • Academic freedom includes the right of both faculty and students to seek censure of faculty members by complaint, petition, or seeking discipline for incompetence or unprofessional behavior.
  • Students in all academic disciplines have a right to receive effective presentations of a broad spectrum of the philosophies relative to those disciplines. Although objectivity is ordinarily assumed in the characterization of scholarly pursuits, this does not mean that each faculty member must give equal weight to all theories appropriate to his/her discipline; rather a spectrum of philosophies or theories should characterize the total offerings within a field.
  • Academic freedom for all members of the academic community demands that channels of administrative communication be open in both directions, and that they be used regularly and effectively.
  • The responsibilities in academic affairs placed upon deans, department chairs, and faculty members should be clearly stated and respected in the operation of the university. The placing of responsibility should be accompanied by the delegation of the authority necessary to discharge it.