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Faculty Responsibilities

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom for faculty members is protected along with tenure and academic due process. Such protections of the rights of the faculty benefit everyone affected by the policies and programs of the University. The University is a marketplace of ideas. In order to transmit, evaluate, and extend knowledge, it cannot require conformity with any orthodoxy of content and method. In the words of the United States Supreme Court,"Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die." See AAUP, " Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure," for the complete statement from which this passage was taken.

The West Virginia University Board of Governors Faculty Rule 4.1 Academic Freedom; Academic & Professional Responsibility recognize that the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the universities and colleges in West Virginia. With academic freedom protected, faculty members may teach, discuss, study, conduct research, and publish to fulfill their function at the University. Further, all faculty members have academic freedom in the classroom, where they may exercise their professional right to discuss material relating to their discipline and the subject being taught. Faculty members may also conduct their research and publish the results of their research with full freedom as long as they do not sacrifice their other academic or professional duties. Finally, faculty members may speak or write with the same rights and freedoms enjoyed by other citizens and without institutional censorship or discipline.

It is further recognized that as a corollary of academic freedom, the faculty has a responsibility for guiding the scholarly pursuits of the University as well as for guiding the scholarly pursuits of each college, school, or their academic equivalent in the University.The University faculty acknowledges responsibility to communicate to those exercising legal authority over the institution its views on matters bearing upon the educational program as described in the Faculty Constitution.

Academic Responsibility

Academic freedom is accompanied by academic responsibility. Faculty members enjoy special positions that impose special obligations. As persons of learning and educational officers, faculty members should be circumspect, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should clearly indicate when they speak officially on behalf of the University and when they do not. In addition, faculty members have the responsibility to protect, defend, and promote academic freedom for all members of the University. They also are responsible as teachers to speak accurately and with respect for the rights and responsibilities of others.

Professional Ethics

Scholars, teachers, and researchers seek, explore, and apply knowledge, and, in doing so, they are bound by their professional obligation to be upright in their pursuit of knowledge, honest in its dissemination, and committed to its efficacy. Without such integrity, the University cannot function as a community of scholars. The Senate Academic Integrity Committee reviews questions and grievances concerning research and scholarship. Separate Academic Integrity Committees exist for each campus of the University. For information, see Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Misconduct in Research and Scholarship at West Virginia University.

Social Justice and Freedom from Illegal Discrimination or Harassment

West Virginia University is committed to social justice, and to the principle that no form of illegal discrimination or harassment will be tolerated. Complaints of illegal discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, ethnic origin, marital status, race, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status will be addressed in an objective and timely manner. The University is also committed to providing its faculty, staff, and students with a work and educational environment free from illegal discrimination or harassment. Illegal discrimination or harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work or study, and is expressly prohibited by the University. Any employee or student with such a complaint may contact appropriate personnel, including human resources, the unit social justice liaison, his or her dean or director, or the President's Office for Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The Student Instruction Committee of the Faculty Senate recommends that a statement reflecting the University's social justice commitment be included in each course syllabus. The recommended text of the social justice statement can be obtained from the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or the associate provost for academic programs.

Title IX creates equity for faculty, staff, and students. It covers sexual violence, sex or gender-based discrimination, including stalking, relationship violence, bullying, and sexual misconduct. The Office of Equity Assurance oversees Title IX at WVU.

Outside Employment and Consulting

Outside employment is left to the discretion of the faculty member, subject to the policies governing consulting stated below. The compensation derived from such activities is also left to the discretion of the faculty member. However, faculty members may not tutor their own students for compensation. A full-time faculty member may not accept teaching assignments at other institutions without the approval of the dean. Such teaching falls under the policies governing consulting.

Consulting by faculty members is normally limited to an average of one working day per week. Such consulting should not prevent a faculty member from fulfilling responsibilities to the institution. Consulting work must be reported to the chairperson, who reports to the dean regarding the extent of consulting by the faculty members in the department. University stationery and other resources may not be used for correspondence or for reports that are related to the consulting work. Such consulting must be approved by the dean and receive clearance from the Office of Sponsored Programs when a sponsored project is involved. Outside employment and consulting activities must be consistent with the provisions of West Virginia University Board of Governors Faculty Rule 4.2 - Appointment, Promotion, Tenure, and Dismissal For Cause.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of interest exists if any member of the family of the faculty member is part of a corporation, has an interest in it, or owns a majority of its stock, and that corporation furnishes to the University goods, services, or anything else.

For purposes of research, a conflict of interest in research exists if financial interests or other opportunities for tangible personal benefit may exert a substantial and improper influence upon an employee's professional judgement in exercising any university duty or responsibility, pertaining to designing, conducting or reporting research. WVU requires an annual conflict of interest in research disclosure from any investigator who wishes to conduct research as per the federal and state regulations cited in the WVU Policy on Conflicts of Interest in Research.

Conduct by a faculty member constituted to be a conflict of interest is grounds for suspension or dismissal from the University for cause. Through this policy, the University carries the provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia, Section 9, Article 12, adopted on March 15, 1969. In addition, faculty should consult West Virginia University Board of Governors Rule 1.4 - Ethics, Conflict of Interest, and Outside Consulting Arrangements and WV Code 6B-1 of the West Virginia Governmental Ethics Act.

Conflict Resolution and Academic Due Process

Faculty members have the right of academic due process in accordance with the provisions of West Virginia University Board of Governors Faculty Rules 4.1 Academic Freedom; Academic and Professional Responsibility and 4.2 Appointment, Promotion, Tenure, and Dismissal For Cause, which governs academic freedom, appointments, promotion, tenure, evaluation, dismissal and termination, and grievances and appeal.

  • University Mediation Program
  • Mediation is a structured process of communication, where people can discuss and resolve issues between them. The process uses mediators who help clarify issues, identify possible options, and create a course of action that the involved parties agree upon.
  • University Faculty Ombuds
  • The University faculty ombuds is available to faculty to provide confidential and impartial assistance to manage conflict. The ombuds facilitates communication and assists constituents in reaching acceptable, fair and equitable resolutions.
  • Grievance Procedures
  • A faculty grievance may be heard under the procedures described in W. Va. Code 6C-2. These procedures may also be used by faculty members who have been denied reappointment, promotion, or tenure, who are given notice of termination because of program reduction or discontinuation, or dismissal for cause.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage applies to "any elected or appointed official executive officer, commissioner, director, or member of [West Virginia University] while acting within the scope of his [or her] duties as such, or any faculty member, employee, volunteer worker or student teacher of [West Virginia University] while acting within the scope of their duties as such, but the insurance afforded such individuals does not apply to 'bodily injury' to another faculty member, employee, volunteer worker or student teacher of [West Virginia University] arising out of or in the course of his [or her] employment. 'Employee' shall not include any person working on a retainer or contractual agreement." Normally students are not covered by the University's liability coverage. However there may be instances where coverage and/or waivers of coverage may apply. For more information contact the University's risk manager at 304-293-5711, ext. 2218 or at the Health Sciences Center at 304-293-3584.

Personal Property Insurance

Personal property insurance is not provided by the State of West Virginia; therefore, property kept in University offices or classrooms is not insured. Faculty members may wish to include their personal property in their homeowner or renter insurance policies, if their insurance covers off-premises items.

Program Creation and Review

It is the purpose of the West Virginia University Board of Governors Academics Rule 2.2 - Program Creation and Review to affirm program change as a tool for institutional enhancement; to offer guidelines that facilitate change while, at the same time, protecting the rights of West Virginia University's faculty, staff, students, and administrators; and to improve the quality and viability of the University's mission through a participatory process of systematic planning and program evaluation.