Draft Declaration on Academic Freedom Beyond the Classroom


Following the approval of the University’s strategic plan by the Board of Trustees in December 2020, the Rector invited us both to co-chair a committee tasked with proactively developing an institutional statement on academic freedom. beyond the classroom rooted in the Catholic identity of the university. In February 2021, a representative interuniversity ad hoc committee was tasked with fulfilling the above task.

This ad hoc committee included representatives from each university division, three priests and, in accordance with shared governance, professors appointed by the faculty’s Senate, as well as students. The ad hoc committee also benefited from the advice of Dr Thomas Flynn, former president of a Catholic college and current senior associate for advice and consultation with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).

We started our work with education and reflection. A special presentation and discussion by Reverend Dennis Holtschneider, CM, President of ACCU, ignited this group’s passion for their charge. The ad hoc committee also reviewed ACCU guidance documents and several comparative statements from other institutions.

Following this period of reflection and engagement, a sub-committee of the large group drafted the prologue, principles and guidelines addressed specifically to the guest speakers; Performing arts and artistic expression; Honorary degrees and major university distinctions; and student demonstrations, as appropriate. Comments and comments from the entire ad hoc committee were incorporated regularly at each step of the iterative process.

After soliciting input from the Deans and the Executive Cabinet, a brief review by the Council’s Academic Affairs Committee, and a review by the Priests’ Advisory Council, the draft declaration received the first comments from the Council of Regents upon retirement. annual in September 2021. The draft declaration was also shared with the Faculty’s Senate Executive Committee in August 2021. All comments received to date have been reviewed and taken into account for incorporation into the draft currently shared with the community university.

We invite you to join us for an information session on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Auditorium Jubilee Hall. During this time, members of the ad hoc committee will present the draft declaration, answer any questions you may have and collect feedback from the community. You can also send your comments until November 5, 2021.

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Our intention is to present to the December meeting of the Board’s Academic Affairs Committee a draft final statement that the academic community as a whole will find useful, meaningful and informative when making decisions in the future. If the Academic Affairs Committee approves the project, it will be sent next to the Board of Trustees and then to the Board of Trustees.

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