University Policies

Faculty Responsibility Policy

Approval Date: 07/01/74
Revised: 12/09/05, 06/01/15
Approved By: President

Faculty Policies – Faculty Responsibilities

This statement has been prepared by the Faculty Senate of Western Illinois University as a guide to faculty members in the performance of their professional responsibilities. It is an answer to the call for shared authority and responsibility in the operation of the University. This statement deals with the rights, the responsibilities, and the standards of conduct of faculty members with the view that they must exercise self-discipline in order to maintain maximum freedom in their professional activities.

Western Illinois University is an integral part of society, and it exists to serve the common good. The essential functions of the University are teaching, research, and service to the citizens of Illinois. An individual appointed to this faculty commits himself/herself to the role of a scholar whose primary duties are teaching and research. In this role, the scholar subscribes to the concept of academic freedom recognized by the Board of Trustees and numerous professional organizations. Academic freedom is essential to the search for truth and its free expression on the part both of the faculty member and of the student. Faculty members must strive to protect the principle of academic freedom for the University community so that responsible instruction will be safeguarded, research may be carried out and the results published, and conflicting views may be evaluated on their merits. Academic freedom flourishes only in an atmosphere of mutual good will and trust among the teaching faculty, the student body, the administrative staff, and the governing board.

The Faculty Member as a Citizen

A faculty member is a citizen, as well as a member of an institution of higher education. When a faculty member speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should be free from institutional censorship or discipline. As a citizen, he/she has the rights within the law common to all citizens to organize and join political or other associations; convene and conduct public meetings; and peacefully assemble, picket, and publicize his/her opinions on political or social issues. In exercising these rights, a faculty member may not use the facilities and services of the University which are not lawfully available to other citizens of the State.

The faculty member’s special position in the community, however, imposes special obligations. As a learned person, he/she should remember that the citizens of Illinois will judge his/her profession and the University by his/her utterances and actions. Hence, faculty members should at all times strive to be accurate, exercise appropriate self-restraint, and show respect for the opinions of others. Furthermore, one has an obligation to indicate that he/she is speaking or acting as an individual and not as a representative of the University. And any indication of one’s University affiliation should be accompanied by a statement that it is for identification purposes only. The Senate holds just as strongly, however, that only misconduct – not ideas, opinions, or the expression of them – should make faculty liable to censure.

The Faculty Member as an Instructor

Each faculty member at Western Illinois University should strive for excellence in classroom instruction, in the laboratory, or in any other educational situation. This goal requires constant evaluation, experimentation, and innovation as professional responsibilities. Education is a dynamic process in which change must be orderly. Each faculty member should recognize that appropriate academic bodies must approve of changes in established regulations and policies. A faculty member must recognize as the mutually accepted procedures within the University those stated in the existing Illinois Board of Trustees, Bylaws and Regulations, in the University catalogs, and in the University handbooks, as well as other policies established by the departments, the colleges, and the University. A faculty member is not free, unilaterally and willfully, to suspend, alter, or abrogate those practices and policies pertaining to the educational operations of the institution. Within these constraints, he/she is entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing, according to his/her area of competence, the subjects which he/she is assigned. Each faculty member has the right to criticize and to seek alteration of these regulations and policies by duly constituted procedures.

Each faculty member is expected to teach his/her assigned courses in a manner consistent with the University calendar, the course content, the evaluation procedures, and the course credit as approved by the department and other appropriate faculty bodies. If a faculty member is unable, for whatever reason, to meet his/her teaching obligations, he/she should notify the department chairperson in order that appropriate arrangements be made to enable the student to meet the course requirements. If the faculty member is unable or unwilling to do so, his department or college must assume this responsibility.

A faculty member as an instructor must scrupulously avoid using his/her position to indoctrinate students or in any way to abridge their academic freedom. One must not attempt overtly or covertly to coerce students into accepting or feigning positions similar to his/hers. A faculty member must not urge his/her students to coerce others or to commit acts of violence against the person or property of others. A faculty member must not promote or participate in activities which disrupt the normal operations of this institution.

Since University policy calls for the evaluation of a student’s performance, every faculty member has the responsibility to report to the University his/her evaluation of the work of each student in his/her classes. Equally important is the responsibility to report this information back to those students. Evaluation of academic achievement is a difficult task. A member of the faculty should have appropriate academic criteria in each of his/her courses and determine the extent to which each student has met those criteria. This assessment must be on an individual student basis. A member of the faculty should communicate how and when assessment-based materials will be returned to their students. The arbitrary assignment of a grade or the rigid a priori determination that a percentage of a class shall receive a specific grade are two examples of grading procedures which are equally inimical to academic responsibility and to the rights of the procedures that reflect accurately the academic achievement of the student. The faculty member should keep adequate records since students may seek redress against arbitrary or capricious evaluations through designated University procedures.

Also, faculty members must acknowledge significant assistance from students in the areas of research, teaching, and publishing.

The Faculty Member as a Colleague

A faculty member as a colleague must be mindful of one’s responsibilities to other faculty members, to the department, and to the University-at-large.

By one’s own actions and by encouraging the highest professional conduct in others, each faculty member must seek to maintain and protect the academic freedom of all faculty members. He/she must not interfere with or allow others to interfere with the teaching duties, the research, or the publication of research results of other faculty members. He/she must seek, through orderly procedures, the correction of injustices to other faculty members within the University. Due credit and acknowledgment must be given to one’s colleagues for assistance in research, publication, and other professional activities in the academic community. When disagreement arises in any of these areas, each faculty member involved must conduct himself/herself in a professional manner and not attempt to discredit the scholarly activities of others through unprofessional conduct.

Since the department is the primary unit of organization and the basic autonomous administrative unit within the University, each faculty member has a special responsibility to the department. One must assist in the orderly functioning of their department to advance its educational aims and purposes.

The principle of shared authority and participation in meeting the educational goals of the University requires the faculty member, in addition to teaching and research, to accept a reasonable share of committee assignments and to assist, where appropriate, in public service to the citizens of Illinois. Faculty members must honor their commitments to the University just as they expect the University to honor its commitments to them.

Adjudication Procedures

A statement on faculty responsibilities and rights would be incomplete without indicating the established means of adjudication of matters falling within the scope of this document.

The current collective bargaining agreement outlines the procedures for the termination-for-cause of a tenured faculty member or the dismissal of a non-tenured faculty member.

This statement attempts, in general terms, to define the rights and responsibilities of faculty members at Western Illinois University. It is meant to be a guide to the faculty in carrying out their professional responsibilities. There is no intent either to alter or to abridge the existing Illinois Board of Trustees Bylaws and Regulations, the current collective bargaining agreement, or the established regulations of Western Illinois University, all of which are published elsewhere.