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Senate 2009-2010
May 11, 2010, Volume 56, No. 33

Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility (SCAFR)

Annual Report for 2009-2010 to the University Faculty

1.  SCAFR’s annual agenda arises from its mission, mandated by the Trustees in the Statutes of the University, both to investigate and report on matters of academic freedom and responsibility of its own choosing and to deal with cases or queries brought to SCAFR’s attention by members of the University faculty, who elect it and whom it serves.

2.  With the help of Susan White of the Faculty Senate Office together with the Provost’s Office, SCAFR confirmed that all Schools had constituted their Committees on Academic Freedom and Responsibility (CAFRs), and distributed to them a general procedural guide for such School committees.

3.  SCAFR met on five occasions from September 2009 until May 2010 to discuss three specific petitions by members of the faculty alleging violations of their academic freedom.  

4.  SCAFR took up once again and for the final time the case of a faculty member that had been the subject of several rulings by SCAFR over many years. SCAFR had previously determined, in 2008, that given the lapse of time, incomplete records, and differing memories, SCAFR had done what it could to bring the University and the faculty member into negotiations, failing which each party would seek what legal recourse it deemed appropriate.  The faculty member came back to SCAFR in December 2009, reporting no further action either by himself, the relevant School, or the University, and asked for SCAFR’s further assistance.  Upon further inquiry and investigation of what had transpired in the intervening period since its determination in 2008, SCAFR declined to take any further action, and recommended that the faculty member make efforts to engage in negotiations with the appropriate parties representing the University that were initially proposed by the Provost’s Office in 2008.

5.  In connection with the aforementioned case (no. 4), SCAFR extended an invitation to the Provost, requesting a meeting to discuss the complexities involved in this longstanding case. The Provost and Vice Provost for Faculty declined to meet with and discuss the case with SCAFR or its Chair for reason that they believed that the matter had been reasonably addressed in 2008, and they saw no grounds for readdressing the case, nor for an additional meeting about it.   

6.  SCAFR met with and discussed a petition by a faculty member about possible inappropriate assignment of duties.  Afterwards the CAFR of his own School issued a finding consistent with the concern expressed by the faculty member.  In view of the action by the CAFR of the faculty member’s School, the assignment of duties was rescinded by the Chair of his Department.  SCAFR found this response to be sufficient, and informed the faculty member to keep SCAFR apprised of any further developments. 

7.  The Chair of SCAFR met late in the spring semester with the University Ombudsman, a Chair of a Department, and a faculty member who is not a member of the standing faculty, to hear the faculty member’s allegations regarding violations of academic freedom.   The complaint is to be discussed by the Committee as a whole at SCAFR’s final meeting in May, and will be further addressed over the summer and in the next academic year.  

8.  SCAFR received truly invaluable service from Susan White, Secretary of the Faculty Senate Office, whose intelligence, thoroughness, competence, and diligence were indispensable to SCAFR’s work.

—Samuel Freeman, SCAFR Chair, 2009-2010

Index of Annual Reports of Senate Committees for 2009-2010

Almanac - May 11, 2010, Volume 56, No. 33