American Association of University Professors
University of Delaware Chapter

011F Hullihen Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE  19716
Phone: 302-831-2292; Fax: 302-831-4119; E-mail:

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Defending Academic Freedom

No one who reads a daily newspaper can be unaware of the concerted attacks on academic freedom that are taking place in several states.  Courts are ruling -- as they have almost always ruled -- that academic freedom belongs to the institution (i.e., to the administration) and not to the faculty, and it is far from clear that faculty handbooks are legally binding documents.  (See the AAUP's Guide on Faculty Handbooks for state-by-state information.)  Under these circumstances, the most certain legal protection for faculty academic freedom is a collective bargaining agreement that brings contract law -- not constitutional law -- to bear on the issue. 

At the University of Delaware, we are fortunate to have a cutting-edge academic freedom policy in our 2010-13 collective bargaining agreement.  This policy, developed in a collegial and mutually supportive interaction between the faculty and the administration, states,

Academic freedom is the freedom to teach, both in and outside the classroom, to conduct research and other scholarly or creative activities, and to publish or otherwise disseminate the results.  Academic freedom also encompasses the freedom to address any matter of institutional policy or action whether or not as a member of any agency of institutional governance. Faculty have the freedom to address the larger community with regard to any social, political, economic, or other interest.  The freedoms enumerated in this policy apply without institutional discipline or restraint save for statements or actions that demonstrate disciplinary incompetence or that violate the University’s Professional Ethics Statement (as edited on 2/12/99) or the University’s standards pertaining to disruptive behavior (as adopted on 6/1/70). Alterations to these statements made subsequent to the signing of this Agreement do not affect the freedoms enumerated in this Article unless ratified by the UD-AAUP. Academic responsibility implies the faithful performance of professional duties and obligations, the recognition of the demands of the scholarly enterprise, and the candor to make it clear that, when one is speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest, one is not speaking for the institution.

To read more about the development of the UD academic-freedom policy, which has become a national model, see "Defending Academic Freedom in the Age of Garcetti," published in Academe in January/February 2011.  Further information on the current status of academic freedom nationwide appears on the website of the national AAUP.