Faculty Professional Rights and Responsibilities

At the May 1973 meeting, the SUNY Faculty Senate adopted a Statement of Professional Rights and Responsibilities, and Guidelines for Adjudicating Allegations of Unprofessional Conduct in Violation of that statement. The statement is as follows:

The professors of the State University of New York, in order to define their professional responsibilities and to assert the rights attendant upon them, make the following statement:

The responsibilities of the professor...

The responsibilities of the professor in State University of New York derive from membership in a learned profession whose members, within a faculty, perform the dual function of cultivating their respective areas of knowledge as coherently structured intellectual disciplines, and of educating students in these areas. The professor's responsibilities are, then, to their profession, to students, and to colleagues, and it is in discharging these responsibilities that the professor fulfills obligations to the University and, as a professor, to society.

The rights of the professor at State University of New York derive from these professional responsibilities and, as such, will guarantee the professor the conditions in which he can discharge them.  In addition, the professor retains all the civil rights belonging to citizens in general.

As a scholar, the professor's responsibility...

As a scholar, the professor's responsibility is to learn, and to advance learning, by disciplined inquiry. The professor should pursue studies in an area of scholarship both to keep abreast of the work of fellow scholars and to contribute by their own study to the development of knowledge in this area.

The professor should conduct studies according to a careful methodology, should be judiciously critical of their own and their fellow scholars' work, and should avoid, insofar as possible, any personal or professional bias that might distort conclusions.

The professor should defend scholarly positions, which in their judgment are well founded, and should modify or abandon positions, which in their judgment have been shown to be faulty or untenable.

The professor should allow no subsidiary interests to occupy their time and energies to the detriment of scholarly and faculty roles. Such outside interests should be discussed with the Office of Human Resources/dean/library director.

The professor should cooperate with fellow scholars within the University and in the profession at large to promote learning in their area, and should help to establish within State University of New York the best conditions for the pursuit of scholarship.

As a scholar, the professor has the right...

As a scholar, the professor has the right to define the area of their scholarship, in accordance with professional training, abilities, and interests; and to pursue studies and share their results subject to no restraints save the professor's own professional integrity and the collective judgment of their work by fellow scholars. Because only these scholars are competent to evaluate their work, the professor has the right to be judged as a scholar solely by them.

The professor has the right to determine the minimal, and to promote the optimal, conditions within the University for the discharge of their responsibilities as a scholar.

As a teacher, the professor has the responsibility...

As a teacher, the professor has the responsibility of educating their students in an area of knowledge, seeking not to indoctrinate but to enlighten them. The professor should share with them freely, and as fully as their level of development permits, the knowledge that they have verified to their own satisfaction, and should nurture their understanding of the methods by which they may in turn become self-disciplined scholars.

The professor should distinguish fact from opinion, hypothesis from conclusion, and present critically the variety of scholarly opinion of which they are aware.

The professor should train students by precept and example in intellectual integrity and the desire for further knowledge in an area of scholarship.

The professor should respect students' dignity as persons, defend their intellectual freedom, keep inviolate the confidential nature of their professional relationship with them, and evaluate their work in a positive attempt to enhance their understanding, without regard to other considerations than the quality of the work itself.

The professor should strive by self-evaluation, by the advice of fellow teachers, and by the reactions of students, to increase their effectiveness as a teacher.

The professor should be conscientious in meeting students in class and privately at their mutual convenience, and become available to them as much as is consistent with other responsibilities.

The professor should choose teaching materials and structure courses in such a way that, in the professor's judgment, will best enable them to discharge their teaching responsibility.

As a teacher, the professor has the freedom...

As a teacher, the professor has the freedom to share with students, in structured courses and privately, the knowledge established by their study in their area of scholarship, whatever current orthodoxies outside this area may be offended.

The professor has the right to determine the conditions necessary for the effective exercise of this right, including the selection of instructional materials, the number and quality of students who can effectively be taught, and the style in which they can best do so; provided always that the professor exercises this right in such a way as not to neglect responsibilities as scholar, teacher, and colleague.

As a member of a faculty, the professor has the responsibility...

As a member of a faculty, the professor has the responsibility of promoting an effective collegiality.

The professor should, together with colleagues, ensure that administrative structures, rules, and regulations of the University, and of their own institution within it, are consistent with the effective discharge of scholarly and teaching responsibilities.

While the professor should not violate existing rules, they should be constructively critical of them in an effort to prevent what in their judgment may hinder scholarship or teaching, and to improve the conditions in which they are carried out. The professor should then study these conditions, participate with colleagues in making decisions respecting them, and counsel administrative officers candidly in the light of their best professional judgment, insofar as may be done without neglecting other responsibilities.

The professor should abide by the rules and regulations published by the college, even when they disagree. 

The professor should take appropriate part in evaluation of candidates for appointment or reappointment to the faculty of their institution, basing that judgment only on professional grounds.

The professor should participate in the governance of the University and their own institution, and in the establishment of procedures determined collectively by the faculty.

Professors should conduct themselves in the affairs of their campus, and exercise their rights as scholars and teachers always with consideration for the welfare of students, colleagues, the institution, and the University as a whole.

The professor should, when speaking outside the University on any matter, avoid creating the impression that they speak for the University or their institution within it, except when duly appointed as its spokesperson.

As a member of the faculty, the professor has the right...

As a member of the faculty, the professor has the right to speak freely within the University on all matters ultimately affecting scholarship and teaching, to participate in discussions with colleagues and students on such matters without fear of overt or covert reprisal, and to be accorded the dignity of a responsive hearing when offering counsel.

Professors and their colleagues have the right to evaluate candidates for appointment or reappointment to professional positions within the University and thereby to define the membership of the profession within it.

Professors have the right to be judged in the discharge of all responsibilities by the fellow members of their  profession.

NOTE: It is understood that, at any given time, there may be in force contractual agreements concerning terms and conditions of employment of members of the professional staff of State University of New York. No item in this Statement of Professional Rights and Responsibilities should be construed as violating or abrogating such agreements. The Statement is intended rather to assert that, as participants in a professional collegiality, professors in State University of New York undertake the responsibilities and enjoy the rights set forth herein, quite apart from such contractual agreements made by them, and on their behalf, as persons employed by the University.

Conditions of Faculty Employment

It is generally agreed that the faculty member will assume the following obligations:

Provide instruction in such courses as assigned by the program director or dean.

Provide instruction in such off-site credit courses as may be assigned by the program director or dean.

Perform such administrative duties and other duties, as may be delegated by the president.

Complete, to the satisfaction of the president, the necessary affidavits and oaths of office as required by the State University of New York, including written statements of appraisal by previous employers or associates, as required by law.

Support the purposes and policies of the Trustees of The State University of New York, the objectives of the college as an employee and representative of the institution, and interpret them faithfully to the students and the public.

Pursue a continuing program of professional/academic growth in keeping with a field of specialization and as a member of the faculty. 

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