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Academic Freedom Committee

In several recent high profile cases documented by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), faculty members have experienced violations of their right to due process that are in conflict with the violating institutions’ own policies and procedures as well as principles outlined by the AAUP. The manner and circumstance of their dismissal raise serious questions about the respect for due process by their institutions. We fully support faculty members affected by these incidents.

The Texas State University Faculty Senate affirms that shared governance, academic freedom, and high standards for professional excellence are the hallmarks of higher education. The well-being and strength of a university and a democratic society depend on free inquiry and expression. Academic freedom without undue restraint is the professional right of faculty members and is an indispensable condition for faculty to carry out their responsibilities of teaching, research and creative work, and service to the institution and the community. Academic freedom further protects faculty members when they participate in the governance of their institutions or speak out on matters of educational policy, particularly when opposing the views of their administrators. The right of due process is an integral component of these principles.

We fully support the AAUP’s statements concerning academic freedom and shared governance, which are linked below:

"Academic freedom is freedom from duress or sanction aimed at suppressing the intellectual independence, free investigation, and unfettered communication by the academic community -- faculty, librarians, students, and guests." (Statement on Academic Freedom, UCLA)

Academic Freedom is fundamental to a university and all faculty have a compelling interest in its preservation, as it is vital to them as well as to university librarians, students, and guests. As such, the Faculty Senate (FS) and its Academic Freedom Committee (AFC) assume joint responsibility for ensuring that it prevails. AFC may call upon the Senate to take up matters for action and the Senate may refer matters to the AFC for consideration.

The FS and the AFC will vigilantly engage in the following measures:

  • promoting an understanding of academic freedom by encouraging and sponsoring ongoing events and activities to convey its significance and establish it as a guiding core value of university culture;
  • identifying threats to, or restrictions on, academic freedom and make concerns known whenever there is convincing evidence to warrant attention;
  • addressing challenges where possible and refer them to other entities for assistance as necessary;
  • assisting with ensuring academic freedom in the international arena by networking with such organizations as Scholars at Risk, which seeks opportunities for oppressed faculty, such as gaining temporary employment at Texas State or receiving invitations to speak here; and
  • pursuing funding for the activities noted above.

Members of the AFC shall include seven members, including at least one who is:

  • a faculty senator,
  • a tenured faculty member,
  • a tenure-track faculty member,
  • a fulltime lecturer,
  • a librarian, and
  • a member of the Graduate House.

2019 - 2020 Members

Academic Freedom Committee College Term Exp Email
Dr. Vince Luizzi, Chair Liberal Arts 2021
Dr. Emily Summers Education 2020
Dr. Patrick Smith Education Ex officio
Dr. Amanda Soto Fine Arts & Communication Ex officio
Dr. Nathan Pino Liberal Arts 2022
Mr. Steve Wilson Liberal Arts Ex officio
Dr. Lucas Rusnak Science & Engineering 2022
Ms. Renee Wendel Health Professions 2022
Ms. Stephanie Towery Library 2020