The institution ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom. (Academic freedom)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


All faculty members at Francis Marion University have their academic freedom protected as described and defined in the Faculty Handbook 2016. It reads as follows:

All members of the faculty are entitled to academic freedom: The teacher is entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of his or her other academic duties. The teacher is entitled to freedom in the classroom and laboratory in discussing his or her subject but should be careful not to introduce into his or her teaching controversial matter which has no relation to his or her subject. Any limitations of academic freedom should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment. Academic freedom is the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenue of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to professional duties and the functioning of the university. The university teacher is a citizen, a member of a learned profession, and an officer of an educational institution. When he or she speaks or writes as a citizen, he or she should feel free from institutional censorship or discipline, but his or her special position in the community imposes special obligations. As a person of learning and an educational officer, he or she 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 he or she is not an institutional spokesperson [1].

The faculty handbook is distributed to every faculty member at the beginning of the fall semester, and is available online on the university website. The Francis Marion chapter of the American Association of University Professors makes a presentation which includes a discussion of academic freedom to new faculty members every summer at the new faculty orientation, and also hosts a forum once per semester that is open to the entire faculty. Issues regarding academic freedom are presented and discussed regularly.

Grievance Policy Related to Academic Freedom

Two standing committees, comprised of faculty members, are available for faculty members who believe that their academic freedom has been violated:

  • The Academic Freedom and Tenure Grievance Committee, made up of six tenured members elected by the faculty for three-year terms
  • The Mediation Committee, consisting of four tenured faculty members elected for three-year terms.

For faculty members who believe their non-reappointment is a violation of their academic freedom, the faculty handbook outlines the procedures for a faculty member to follow [2]:

  • By mutual consent, the faculty member and the appropriate administrative officers will attempt to resolve the alleged violations.
  • If mutual consent is unobtainable, either the faculty member or the University President may initiate formal proceedings before the Academic Freedom and Tenure Grievance Committee.
  • The Academic Freedom and Tenure Grievance Committee may request the Mediation Committee to seek a solution through mediation.
  • If the Mediation Committee is unable to reach a solution, the faculty advisor may then proceed with a hearing before the Academic Freedom and Tenure Grievance Committee.
  • During that hearing, the faculty member has the right to an advisor, the right to call witnesses, and the right to obtain and present evidence.
  • Both parties have the right to request a representative from an appropriate professional organization, to investigate evidence, and to present witnesses.
  • At the end of the proceedings, the Committee makes a written recommendation to the Administration.
  • The President can accept or reject, in writing, this recommendation.
  • The faculty member has the right to appeal the administration’s decision to the Board of Trustees.

Allegations of Violations

Since Francis Marion University’s last accreditation, there has been one violation of academic freedom alleged by a faculty member. Pursuant to the procedure specified in the Faculty Handbook 2016, the Committee convened to determine if it had jurisdiction over the complaint [3]. After reviewing the totality of the evidence, the Committee found no violation of the faculty member’s academic freedom [4].


  1. Faculty Handbook 2016, Academic Freedom Defined, p. 30
  2. Faculty Handbook, 2016, Procedures for Hearing Grievances Related to Academic Freedom and Tenure, as well as Cases Involving Dismissal for Cause, p. 33-36
  3. Faculty Handbook, Academic Freedom and Tenure Grievance Committee, p. 33-34
  4. Letter from Academic Freedom and Tenure Grievance Committee