Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is the indispensable quality of institutions of higher education. As the AAUP's core policy statement argues, "institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition" (1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure).

Through its Academic Freedom Fund, the AAUP Foundation supports projects that safeguard academic freedom to encourage free inquiry, promote the expansion of knowledge, and create an environment in which learning and research can flourish, thereby enhancing the quality of higher education and benefiting society. 

Recent Academic Freedom Grants

  • Provided temporary financial aid for faculty members summarily dismissed. St. Edwards University dismissed two long-serving, tenured associate professors, Shannan Butler and Corinne Weisberger, without affording them due process for allegations of "unprofessional" conduct. (2018)
  • Supported expansion of Student Advocacy Programs to provide training related to academic freedom and free expression. Funds enable participation in Scholars at Risk's Student Advocacy Seminars and Student Advocacy Day. (2018)
  • Supported costs of bringing keynote speaker to Ohio state AAUP conference's annual meeting. Funds helped the Ohio conference to host keynote speaker Christopher Newfield of the University of California, Santa Barbara, presenting "Undoing the Great Mistake: How to Get Public Universities Back on Track." (2018)
  • Covered costs for selected Summer Institute presenters on AAUP policies and procedures. Funds supported travel to the University of New Hampshire and accommodation costs for workshop presenters. (2018)
  • Supported legal costs for faculty member penalized for controversy surrounding a social-media posting. Trinity College suspended Johnny Williams after an online targeted-harassment campaign called attention to and misrepresented comments he made on Twitter. (2018)
  • Supported an Academic Freedom Week event. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York received a grant for an April 2018 Academic Freedom Week event sponsored by Columbia University's department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies. (2018)
  • Supported an Academic Freedom conference. The Faculty Association of California Community Colleges Education Institute received a grant for a September 2018 conference. (2018)
  • Provided replacement income for faculty member summarily dismissed after criticizing curricular changes. The Community College of Aurora dismissed part-time instructor of philosophy Nathanial Bork after he conveyed his intention to send a letter about the Gateway to Success curriculum to the college's accreditor. (2017)
  • Provided year-long funding for the Scholar Transition Project. Supports Scholars at Risk, “an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission it is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom," in providing training for higher education professionals who require assistance due to political upheaval (2017)
  • Supported the AAUP’s participation in a conference on current threats to academic freedom.  The Institute for Advanced study hosted this two-day multi-organization meeting, which endeavored to build alliances and networks to support higher education in a challenging political climate. (2017)
  • Covered costs related to the commemoration of the 1967 US Supreme Court case Keyishian v. Board of Regents at the 2017 AAUP Annual Conference. Events will include a panel discussion with Harry Keyishian and experts on academic freedom and a plenary luncheon honoring Professor Keyishian for his courage, integrity, and unstinting commitment to academic freedom. (2017)
  • Supports costs of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure investigations, meetings, and reports. The AAUP conducted an investigation of University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018. 2017 investigations included Community College of Aurora (Colorado) and Spalding University (Kentucky). 2016 investigations included the College of Saint Rose (New York), the University of Missouri (Columbia), and the Community College of Aurora (Colorado). 2015 investigations included Felician College (New Jersey), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2016–18;  2015)
  • Funds publication and distribution of portions of the Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors addressing academic freedom issues. The annual Bulletin includes the previous year’s academic freedom and tenure investigative reports, reports of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and committee reports on topics related to academic freedom. (2016–18)
  • Funds production costs for the AAUP’s Journal of Academic Freedom. The open-access Journal is published annually in an electronic format and is the only academic journal that focuses exclusively on the global analysis of academic freedom and related issues. (2014–18)
  • Provided grants to support production of the documentary Agents of Change and outreach to AAUP chapters and conferences seeking to schedule screenings of the film. Agents of Change examines struggles to create black and ethnic studies programs in the 1960s and their legacy for campus activism today. (2016; 2015)
  • Provided funds for legal defense and temporary financial assistance to support professor fired for using profanity. The board of the Academic Freedom Fund unanimously approved the request for funds for Teresa Buchanan of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, who is contesting her dismissal after 20 years at LSU. (2015)

Donate to the Academic Freedom Fund today!