Carnegie Mellon University

The Word

Student Handbook

Academic and Individual Freedom

Within the academic community, trustees, administrators, faculty, students and staff share the responsibility for achievement of the goals of the university. Responsibilities specific to various groups are discussed in the sections which follow. Especially important, however, are the responsibilities pertaining to academic and individual freedom. An academic community is uniquely suited to its educational and scholarly purposes primarily because of its firm commitment to intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and expression, respect for the dignity of each individual and because of its receptiveness to constructive change.

The commitment to academic and individual freedom carries with it major responsibilities for all members of the university. In exercising their own freedoms, they must respect the rights of others. In seeking innovation, they must recognize that constructive change can be affected at a university only through orderly and rational processes. Intentional acts threatening personal safety, malicious destruction of property or willful and substantial disruption of university functions have no place in an academic community and will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of all members of the academic community to maintain an atmosphere in which such violations of rights are unlikely to occur and to develop processes which assure the protection of these rights for all persons.

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Board of Trustees

The trustees bear ultimate responsibility for the university, its policies, organization, financing and governance. Two direct responsibilities are the supervision of the university's finances and the appointment of the president as chief executive officer. The operating responsibilities and the authority to act are delegated to the president; and it is primarily through the president that the trustees monitor the university's activities.

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The administrative officers are formally responsible for supervising the programs and enforcing the policies of the university, for assessing the effects of policy and for recommending improvements or changes where appropriate. The president is the chief executive officer of the university. In the operation of the university, the president delegates responsibility to provost, vice presidents, deans, directors and department heads and to various councils and committees, which may include faculty, students and staff.

It is the duty of the administrative officers of the university to maintain a campus climate which enhances the freedom of the faculty to teach, to engage in research and to take part in other scholarly and artistic activities, and the freedom of the students to learn and grow both inside and outside of the classroom.

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The faculty has the primary responsibility for carrying out the educational and scholarly programs of the university.

All members of the faculty have the duty to conduct their courses in a manner consistent with the highest standards of their profession. Through the presentation of material in the classroom, they should strive to advance the art of teaching. One of the primary goals should be to instill in their students a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for the subject matter at hand. The faculty as a whole also has the major responsibility for establishing and maintaining curricula which meet the standards and fulfill the educational goals of the university.

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Carnegie Mellon, as a private university, selects from among its applicants those students who have demonstrated the qualifications for achieving professional competence in one of the fields in which the university offers instruction. Any student who meets its standards is welcome to apply for admission and, if admitted, to remain at the university so long as he or she abides by its rules.

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Advisory Boards

Each academic department and school at Carnegie Mellon, as well as some non-academic units, has an advisory board whose purpose is to assist the department and the university more effectively to carry out their mission.  An advisory board may use any appropriate means to achieve this purpose, important among which are evaluating the department's goals and directions and providing information and advice to the president, provost, deans and department heads.

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