Franklin & Marshall College, in an effort to assure a climate of productive teaching and creative scholarship, has adopted the following statements regarding the professional guarantees accorded its faculty members and the duties which they are expected to perform as members of the educational community. The rights accorded faculty members conform in large part to statements adopted by the American Association of University Professors and are designed to ensure the faculty member’s academic freedom. The statements concerning the responsibility of faculty members are intended to provide a minimal framework of rules that will ensure the existence of a productive educational environment.


The Trustees of Franklin & Marshall College have adopted the following statements and regulations dealing with academic freedom and tenure and declare them to be the policies of the College.

From its inception, this nation has cherished the concept that freedom is the right of every human being. Our earliest and still most precious documents proclaim every individual’s right to free thought and free speech. Our most respected leaders, from the time of our nation’s founding to the present, have repeatedly asserted their belief that our mode of life and our way of government depend on free and open discussion and further that, in a free marketplace of ideas, truth will prevail. It is in extension of those cardinal principles that we, the Trustees of Franklin & Marshall College, make this statement.


This College is dedicated to the belief that education in the liberal arts—“The arts becoming to free individuals”—is essential to a worthwhile society. The College is more than a place; it is a gathering of students and teachers engaged in the pursuit of wisdom and, ultimately, of truth. Their quest can flourish only in a climate of freedom—in an atmosphere that not only tolerates but also encourages searching inquiry, unfettered thought, open discussion, and free expression of ideas.

The College is a center of intellectual exploration. An open society needs such centers of free and honest inquiry to preserve the strength of its heritage and the vitality of its future. Colleges and universities are therefore crucially important social institutions, for they are the spawning grounds of ideas that contribute significantly to the welfare of humankind. To perform their function, they must be hospitable to a vast and varied array of viewpoints; they must be consecrated to the open-minded.

We have only to look at the experience of totalitarian states to find meaningful demonstrations of the tragic consequence of removing freedom from the academic world, of turning educational institutions into centers of indoctrination.

It is in the interest of our civilization as well as in fulfillment of our trust to the College that we guarantee academic freedom, precisely because the application of principles of freedom to the academic community is essential for maintaining the free flow of ideas necessary for the good of all people everywhere.

In this light, academic freedom is neither a mystery nor a thing apart from the mainstream of our national life. It exists as a right of scholars and not as a special privilege extended to them.

Is this freedom absolute? It cannot be. It is subject to the rule of reason. It contains those wisely self-imposed restraints that preserve our freedom, and it yields to the conscience of the instructor as the academic trust is executed.

The College cherishes freedom, but it will not welcome to its center those who would irresponsibly abuse and destroy this freedom.

Members of a college Faculty have their being as teachers, scholars, and as citizens, and in all roles they have sober responsibilities. As teachers, faculty members are mentors, guiding students to develop their own intellectual powers. Accordingly, faculty members are responsible for engaging students in a variety of ideas, opinions, and positions. As scholars, faculty members must depend on the strength of their evidence and the soundness of their logic to earn respect for their conclusions. The College, as an institution, takes no position either for or against their conclusions or their points of view. But the College is an advocate for the circumstances under which the search for truth can be pursued, and it therefore insists on protecting its scholars in their freedom to express the results of their inquiries. As citizens, faculty members have a special obligation to maintain a reputation for integrity. They must weigh carefully the validity of their opinions and the manner in which they are expressed. They must always recognize their limitations outside their fields of special competence. They must be aware that not only they but their profession and their institution may be harmed by rash acts or statements. Despite these cautions, we assert the scholar’s right to full, responsible citizenship.

All of the members of a community like Franklin & Marshall College have a share in its governance and the maintenance of its welfare. The Commonwealth, in granting the College’s Charter, directed that “The Board of Trustees shall transact the business of the corporation and college and generally do all matters and things which may be necessary to secure the full success and well-being of the institution.” In responsible fulfillment of its mandate, the Board of Trustees has charged the Faculty with broad authority in the educational life of the institution. The Trustees of the College look to the Faculty to maintain high standards of teaching, scholarship, and professional conduct. To preserve these standards, the College is obliged to be rigorous in the consideration of appointments, promotions, and the granting of tenure. The Faculty must therefore not only accept an obligation to foster high standards of professional conduct but must also willingly bear responsibility for the discipline of those who fail to comport themselves in keeping with their academic trust.

In short, a college is a unique institution. It operates in the true sense of community. Faculty, trustees, and administrators each have special responsibilities and special competencies, and these are combined to foster the fullest effectiveness of the institution.



In harmony with the general statement above, we endorse the following statement promulgated by the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges:

1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to the subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment. (No such limitation is prescribed by Franklin & Marshall College.)

3. College or university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As men and women of learning and educational officers, they should remember that the public might judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence, they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not institutional spokespersons.

(Excerpted from the Franklin & Marshall Faculty Handbook)