Academic Freedom

Last Updated: 
Effective Date: 
Policy Statement: 

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.

Reviewed and Approved By: 
Michael Gottfredson, President
Issued by: 
Michael Gottfredson, President
Revision History: 

In January 2010, the Provost charged a work group, led by Russ Tomlin, to review and revise the current Campus Speakers policy. The work group included representatives from the faculty (Margie Paris-Law, Tim Gleason-SOJC), administration (Brian Smith-VPFA, Kathie Stanley-VPSA, and Beverlee Stilwell-Provost Office) and General Counsel (Randy Geller). The workgroup was also supported administratively by Pam Palanuk and Marilyn Skalberg. The workgroup developed a draft policy that was discussed with the Faculty Advisory Council, the Deans, and Leadership Council. The draft policy was posted for comment on both the Provost's and Senate websites.

The final version incorporating revisions based on the ensuing feedback was reviewed and adopted by the Senate with minor revisions at its last meeting of May 26, 2010. The policy was approved by the Executive Leadership Team on June 7, 2010.

28 December 2010 - Approved by the university president

17 April 2013 - Senate passed motion US12/13-34: Academic Freedom & Freedom of Speech

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

13 November 2013 - On the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee, the University Senate repealed motion US12/13-34 with the passage of US13/14-07

9 April 2014 – Policy approved by the University Senate

28 May 2014 - Policy approved by the university president <signed document>

Original Source: 
UO Policy Statement