Faculty members at commencement ceremony

Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

Preamble

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) seeks to provide, promote, and sustain a landscape that is conducive to sharing, extending, and critically examining knowledge and values, and to furthering intellectual discourse. The success of these central functions requires that faculty members be free within their respective fields of competence to pursue and teach the critical examination of knowledge and values in accord with appropriate standards of scholarly inquiry.

The faculty’s privileges and protections rest on the mutually supportive relationships between the faculty’s special professional expertise, its academic freedom, and the central functions of the University. These relationships are also the source of the professional responsibilities of faculty members.

Part I of this Code sets forth the responsibility of the University to maintain conditions and rights supportive of the faculty’s pursuit of the University’s central functions.

Part II elaborates standards of professional conduct, derived from general professional consensus about the existence of certain precepts as basic to acceptable faculty behavior. Conduct which departs from these precepts is viewed by faculty as unacceptable because it is inconsistent with professional and ethical standards in Academia.

Part III provides campus resources available to faculty who have questions or concerns related to any aspect of their rights and responsibilities.

The Appendix provides representative examples of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. The articulation of types of unacceptable faculty conduct is appropriate both to verify that a consensus about minimally acceptable standards in fact does exist and to give fair notice that departures from these minimal standards may give rise to disciplinary proceedings. This code outlines principles that require interpretation by faculty members who have relevant experience and expertise in areas close to the behavior in question. As such, it lays out principles that require interpretation and application by a faculty member’s peers.  This code, and any process for its enforcement, emphasizes faculty members’ judgment as preferable to specific rules that are applied more mechanically.

In framing these rights and responsibilities within this code of conduct, UTSA aims to put our values into practice, set high standards of excellence, and create a climate in which all faculty are valued for their professional expertise in teaching, research, and service. It is the intent of the Faculty Code of Conduct to protect academic freedom; to preserve the highest standards of teaching, scholarship, and service; and to advance the mission of the University as an institution of higher learning.

 


 

Statement of Equity

These Rights and Responsibilities shall apply equally to all faculty, regardless of rank, background, or perspective.

UTSA “faculty” are defined as all individuals appointed to and holding an academic title in accordance with HOP policy 2.02. Additionally, these Rights and Responsibilities are to be extended to any other UTSA affiliated personnel given instructional or scholarly duties.

It is recognized that such a commitment to equity infers an additional responsibility upon the faculty to remove barriers that have limited access to advancement in position, instruction, scholarship, or other academic pursuits, and to actively promote an academic community valuing diversity, inclusion, and fairness in treatment.

Part I. Professional Rights of Faculty

Academic Freedom

Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, and they are entitled to freedom in the classroom, in accordance with the Constitutional right to free speech, Board of Regents Rule 31004, and HOP policy 4.02.

Faculty members are citizens, members of learned professions, and officers of an educational institution supported by the State of Texas. When they speak or write as a citizen, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but should make it plain that they are not an institutional spokesperson.

University’s Commitment to Civic Discourse and Engagement

UTSA is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters. It guarantees all members of the university community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom[1] are necessary to the functioning of the university, UTSA fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the university community “to discuss,” in the words of former University of Chicago President Robert M. Hutchins, “any problem that presents itself.”

It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. UTSA greatly values civility. All members of the university community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect. Concerns about civility and mutual respect cannot be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, within the parameters of what is constitutionally protected. A faculty member has the rights of association and political participation guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions except as provided by Section 556.004.

Shared Governance

Shared governance is a central tenet of academic planning and decision-making at UTSA, where the representation and participation of faculty, staff and students assures that academic quality is at the heart of the process. Faculty have a voice in academic policy, procedure, and decisions, as authorized by state law, rules of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, UT System Regents’ Rules and Regulations, and UTSA procedures, through the Faculty Senate; department and school/college bylaws; department and school/college elected and appointed committees; standing committees; and other representative ad hoc advisory councils, such as initiative committees, task forces, tactical teams and similar bodies.

Impartial Application of University Policies

In accordance with the Statement of Equity (Article II of these UTSA Faculty Rights and Responsibilities), the rights of UTSA faculty shall be protected, and their responsibilities upheld, impartially, without regard to rank, background, or perspective.

In addition, the faculty shall endeavor to assure that all other UTSA policies and procedures are enacted and enforced impartially, without regard to rank, background, or perspective.

Right to Expect Civility in the Workplace

All members of the university community are entitled to dignity, respect, and consideration in their interactions with one another. As leaders in the UTSA community, the faculty have an obligation to actively promote a culture of civility and respect.


Part II. Professional Responsibilities of Faculty

UTSA’s faculty responsibilities are based on AAUP’s Statement on Professional Ethics. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable conduct are included in the Appendix.

Scholarship

Faculty recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them, guided by their conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge. Faculty shall:

  • Practice intellectual honesty.
  • Develop and improve their scholarly competence.
  • Accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge.
  • Ensure that when they follow subsidiary interests, those interests never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.

Teaching and Students

Faculty encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. Faculty shall:

  • Hold before them the best scholarly, pedagogical, and ethical standards of their discipline.
  • Demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and mentors.
  • Make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit.
  • Respect the nature of the relationship between professor and student protected under statutes such as FERPA and Title IX.
  • Not engage in any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students.
  • Acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from students.
  • Protect students’ academic freedom.

Colleagues

Faculty have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Faculty shall:

  • Interact with faculty colleagues and the wider university community in ways that are free from bullying, discrimination, or harassment.
  • Respect and defend the free inquiry of associates, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own. 
  • Acknowledge contributions to intellectual pursuits and strive to be objective in professional judgment of colleagues.
  • Accept share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of the institution.

The University

As members of an academic institution, faculty seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars:

  • Although faculty observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision.
  • Faculty give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution and disciplines in determining the amount and character of work done outside it.
  • When considering the interruption or termination of their service, faculty recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution, especially students, and give due notice of their intentions.

The Community

As members of their community, faculty have the rights and obligations of other citizens:

  • Faculty balance these obligations in relation to their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution.
  • When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university.
  • As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, faculty have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further broaden the understanding of academic freedom.

Part III. Institutional Resources

UTSA faculty may need to pursue questions or concerns related to work. University resources exist to encourage fair, efficient and equitable solutions. If the concern relates to an interpersonal dispute with another university employee, faculty should first seek to resolve the issue through open and direct communication with that employee.

  • The University Ombuds Office serves as an informal and impartial resource that can listen to complaints and grievances and provide conflict-resolution services for all university employees in a safe and welcoming environment
  • The Office of Community and Restorative Justice serves as an informal resource designed to prevent or respond to harm in a community with an emphasis on healing, social support, and active accountability. This office serves as an agent to facilitate a collaborative approach for all involved, listen critically, and promote avenues for change.
  • The Office of People Excellence manages the PeopleSource information portal, which includes a list of dispute-resolution resources.
  • The Faculty Grievance Procedure (HOP 2.34) lays out the formal process through which grievances can be pursued.
  • Faculty who believe they have been discriminated, harassed, or retaliated against based upon a protected class and faculty who are victims of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct including sexual violence, dating violence or stalking can file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Services/Title IX Office.

UTSA's "Faculty Rights and Responsibilities" was developed in 2022 by a working group convened by Faculty Success, a division of Academic Affairs, that included faculty of all ranks and representation from faculty senators, department chairs, and associate deans. The UTSA Faculty Senate had the opportunity to participate in the review process, and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee provided their comments and support in November 2022.


Appendix. Examples of Acceptable and Unacceptable Conduct

This appendix supplements the Code of Conduct by providing examples of the AAUP principles from which faculty responsibilities are derived.

Scholarship

Faculty recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them, guided by their conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge

Principle

  • Practice intellectual honesty.
  • Develop and improve their scholarly competence.
  • Accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge.
  • Although faculty may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.

Examples of Acceptable Conduct

  • Establish and maintain an active program of research, scholarship or creative work (dependent on assigned workload), and respect the intellectual property rights of others
  • Practice intellectual and academic honesty in all interactions with students, colleagues, and academic communities
  • Accurately acknowledge the scholarly contributions of colleagues, students, other trainees, and relevant institutions and affiliations in work that is shared with the larger community
  • Practice scholarly activities within bounds of expertise, making the distinction between public statements of expertise and non-expert personal opinion

Examples of Unacceptable Conduct

  • Violate canons of intellectual honesty, such as research misconduct and/or intentional misappropriation of the writings, research, and findings of others.
  • Fail to acknowledge scholarly contributions of others
  • Fail to disclose conflicts of interest (when relevant)
  • Fail to adhere to relevant discipline-specific codes of ethics

Teaching and Students

Faculty encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students:

Principle

  • Hold before them the best scholarly, pedagogical, and ethical standards of their discipline.
  • Demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and mentors.
  • Make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit.
  • Respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student.
  • Do not engage in any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students.
  • Acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them.
  • Protect students’ academic freedom

Examples of Acceptable Conduct

  • Provide students with a statement on the goals and objectives of the course, and evaluation standards (syllabus)
  • Offer constructive, impartial, and timely evaluation of students' work
  • Meet assigned classes in their scheduled modality
  • Hold regular office hours in the modalities of the scheduled course
  • Be available for students when their instructional help is needed
  • Employ pedagogical approaches in which free inquiry is possible
  • Administer final examinations at the scheduled times
  • Treat students with professional courtesy and respect their rights, including, but not limited to, academic freedom and those rights as outlined in Students’ Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Acknowledge students’ significant academic or scholarly contributions in publications, presentations, and other scholarly endeavors.

Examples of Unacceptable Conduct

  • Evaluate student work by criteria not directly reflective of course performance or stated criteria in the course syllabus.
  • Undue and unexcused delay in evaluating student work.
  • Expect students to perform unremunerated or uncredited teaching, research, or personal duties.
  • Use the position or powers of a faculty member to coerce cause harm to a student for arbitrary or personal reasons.
  • Discriminate or harass students on the basis of race, color, gender, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and veteran status in all aspects of employ and education.
  • Violate University policies related inappropriate consensual relationships or sexual harassment and misconduct as defined in the HOP.

Colleagues

Faculty have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars:

Principle

  • Interact with faculty colleagues and the wider university community in ways that are free from bullying, discrimination, or harassment.
  • Respect and defend the free inquiry of associates, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own.
  • Acknowledge contributions to intellectual pursuits and strive to be objective in professional judgment of colleagues.
  • Accept share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of the institution.

Examples of Acceptable Conduct

  • Affirm the good work colleagues are doing —both within your department/College and in other disciplines—to encourage success.
  • Practice civility in interactions with colleagues, including being courteous and respectful when someone expresses a different opinion, to create an open and collegial work environment.
  • Speak up when others are being harmed, treated unfairly, or otherwise being subjected to the types of language or behavior referenced in “Examples of Unacceptable Behavior.”
  • Participate regularly and fully in unit/department committees and teaching classes, regardless of rank or hierarchy.
  • Acknowledge academic obligations.
  • Evaluate colleagues objectively and based on metrics related to their professional performance.
  • Follow established rules that govern confidentiality in personnel procedures.

Examples of Unacceptable Conduct

  • Engage in factionalism within a department or school or “gang up” on specific faculty members.
  • Put down others who come from different disciplines.
  • Engage in behavior that is disruptive to another faculty member’s exercise of their academic freedom, freedom of expression, teaching, scholarship, professional service, or other pertinent academic duties.
  • Evaluate the professional competence of faculty members using criteria not directly reflective of professional performance (e.g., personality, favoritism, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability)
  • Refuse to be on committees or to teach certain classes because of hierarchy.
  • See unethical behavior and do nothing/say nothing.
  • Use language or engage in behavior that is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or abusive, or otherwise engaging in conduct that creates a hostile work environment.
  • Discriminate, harass, or bully colleagues on the basis of race, color, gender, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, and veteran status in all aspect employment and education, per HOP 9.01.
  • Violate University policies related inappropriate consensual relationships or sexual harassment and misconduct as defined in the HOP.

The University

As members of an academic institution, faculty seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars

Principle

  • Although faculty observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision.
  • Faculty give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution and their disciplines in determining the amount and character of work done outside it.
  • When considering the interruption or termination of their service, faculty recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.

Examples of Acceptable Conduct

  • Use established channels (e.g., shared governance framework) to seek policy changes
  • For scholars in positions of leadership, assist in devising and implementing policies and procedures that promote a positive working and learning environment.
  • Provide timely, written notice when interrupting or terminating service at UTSA (per HOP policies)

Examples of Unacceptable Conduct

  • Disrupt functions or activities sponsored or authorized by the University or incite others to disobey University rules or disrupt University-authorized functions (see  HOP 9.37 for regulations on Peaceful Public Assembly).
  • Use university resources or facilities on a significant scale for personal, commercial, political, or religious purposes.
  • When leaving the university, do not attempt to disrupt future research or instruction

The Community

As members of their community, faculty have the rights and obligations of other citizens:

Principle

  • Faculty measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution.
  • When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university.
  • As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, faculty have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further broader understanding of academic freedom.

Examples of Acceptable Conduct

  • Use academic expertise to help community, state, nation and world (but the extent to which could depend on factors such as field, inclination, and opportunity)
  • When speaking as a citizen, make clear they are not acting as an institutional spokesperson.

Examples of Unacceptable Conduct

  • Intentionally misrepresent personal views as a statement of position of the University
  • Commit a criminal act which has led to conviction in a court of law and which clearly demonstrates unfitness to continue as a member of the faculty.

1Sources:


Portions of this document, including the Appendix, were adapted from the following sources:

UTSA gratefully acknowledges the institutions that authored these documents.