Faculty Handbook
July 1999

Section 1Section 2Section 3Section 4Section 5Section 6Section 7

Section 3 Rights and Responsibilities of the Faculty

3.1 The University of Tennessee Policies Governing Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure

On June 18, 1998, the Board adopted The University of Tennessee Policies Governing Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure. Accordingly, the Board requires that the UTHSC Faculty Handbook include those policies. Policies and procedures specific to UTHSC are incorporated at appropriate points within the Board of Trustees' Policies Governing Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure. This Section 3.1 contains the portion of those policies related to academic freedom and responsibility.

The Board of Trustees is constituted by statute of the State of Tennessee as the governing body of The University of Tennessee, with complete and full authority over the organization and administration of The University28 and its constituent parts and over the granting of tenure to members of the Faculty.

The principal mission of The University is the discovery and dissemination of truth through teaching, research and service29. The Board recognizes that freedom of inquiry and expression is indispensable for this purpose and believes that it and the Administration and Faculty should cooperate to that end. In The University's program of teaching, research and service, it is essential that the Board, Administration, and Faculty cooperate voluntarily, each contributing freely, according to his or her qualifications, in a mutually beneficial exchange of information and ideas.

The following statement by the Board is intended to record the policy and procedures of The University with respect to academic freedom and responsibility (Sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.2). The policies and procedures of The University of Tennessee, Health Science Center with respect to tenure are found in Sections 4 and 7. The Board considers these principles (i.e., academic freedom, responsibility, and tenure) compatible with its statutory authority and responsibilities and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and inquiry to each citizen of the United States.

3.1.1 Academic Freedom and Responsibility of the Faculty Member

A healthy tradition of freedom and tenure is essential to the proper functioning of UTHSC. At the same time, membership in a society of scholars (i.e., the Faculty) enjoins upon a faculty member certain obligations to colleagues, to UTHSC, and to the State that guarantees academic freedom.

  1. The primary responsibility of a faculty member is to use the freedom of his or her office in an honest, courageous, and persistent effort to search out and communicate the truth that lies in the area of his or her competence.
  2. A faculty member is entitled to full freedom in research and in publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of his or her other academic duties, but research for pecuniary gain either within or beyond the scope of his or her employment must be based upon an understanding with the UTHSC Administration, according to The University's policies (e.g., Compensated Outside Services (Section 3.5), Conflict of Interests (Section 3.5).
  3. A faculty member should maintain a high level of personal integrity and professional competence, as demonstrated in teaching, research, and/or service. Academic freedom does not exempt a faculty member from an evaluation by colleagues and Administration of his or her qualifications for continued membership in their society.
  4. A faculty member is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing the subject, but the faculty member should use care in expressing personal views in the classroom and should be careful not to introduce controversial matters that have no relation to the subject taught, and especially matters in which he or she has no special competence or training and in which, therefore, faculty member's views cannot claim the authority accorded his or her professional statements.
  5. A faculty member should recognize that the right of academic freedom is enjoyed by all members of the academic community. He or she should be prepared at all times to support actively the right of the individual to freedom of research and communication as defined herein.
  6. In addition to the normal responsibilities of a citizen of the state and nation, including the duty to uphold their Constitutions and obey their laws, a faculty member also should conduct himself or herself professionally with colleagues. He or she should strive to maintain the mutual respect and confidence of his or her colleagues. He or she should endeavor to understand the customs, traditions, and usages of the academic community.
  7. When, as a citizen, a faculty member speaks outside the classroom or writes for publication, he or she should be free, as a citizen, to express his or her opinions. Each faculty member should conduct himself or herself professionally, should be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make clear that he or she speaks for himself or herself and not for UTHSC.

3.1.2 Academic Freedom and Responsibility of the University Administration

  1. UTHSC is committed to recruiting, appointing, retaining and promoting faculty members by processes which are thorough, thoughtful, equitable, and in which the professional judgments of faculty members are of major importance.
  2. Administrative officers should actively foster within UTHSC a climate favorable to freedom of teaching and research. In its pursuit of excellence, UTHSC should reward its outstanding faculty embers.
  3. The Administration is responsible for enforcing all Board and UTHSC policies applicable to faculty members. It is the duty of the Administration, beginning with Department Chairs, Deans, and the UTHSC Chief Academic Officer, to remove from the Faculty any faculty member who had been found, through proper procedures, seriously derelict in his or her responsibilities as a member of the academic community.
  4. The Board requires that UTHSC and its constituent academic units (i.e., colleges, departments, and divisions) develop appropriate policies and procedures necessary to implement the Board's tenure policy. The UTHSC and academic unit documents pertaining to the Board's tenure policy must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

3.2 Statement of Professional Ethics of the UTHSC Faculty30

  1. Membership in the UTHSC academic community imposes on students, faculty members, administrators, and trustees an obligation to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge their right to express differing opinions, and to foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and free expression on and off campus. Students and professional trainees are entitled to an atmosphere conducive to learning and to even-handed treatment in all aspects of the teacher-student relationship. It is the mastery that faculty members have of their subjects and their own scholarship that entitles them to their faculty rank and their classrooms and to freedom in the presentation of their subjects. Because academic freedom has traditionally included the faculty member's full freedom as a citizen, most faculty members face no insoluble conflicts between the claims of politics, social action, and conscience, on the one hand, and the claims and expectations of their students, colleagues, and UTHSC, on the other. Accordingly, the use of UTHSC stationery, telephones, and other resources for personal or extramural activities of any extended nature should be avoided, as should the use of the faculty member's university position or title in connection with the expression of purely personal views.
  2. Plans for ensuring compliance with UTHSC academic norms should emphasize preventive as well as disciplinary action. Toward this end every faculty member should take the initiative, working with the Administration and other components of UTHSC, to develop and maintain an atmosphere of freedom, commitment to academic inquiry, and respect for the academic rights of others. There is a need for the Faculty to assume a positive role as guardian of academic values against unjustified assaults from any source, including its own members. The traditional faculty function in disciplinary proceedings has been to ensure academic due process and meaningful faculty participation in the imposition of discipline by the Administration. While this function should be maintained, faculty members should recognize their stake in promoting adherence to norms essential to the academic enterprise of UTHSC. In addition, systematic attention should be given to questions related to sanctions other than dismissal, such as warnings and reprimands, in order to provide a more versatile body of academic sanctions in the event of academic misconduct by a faculty member.
  3. The following points describe the obligations and responsibilities of faculty members and general academic norms of conduct for faculty members at UTHSC :
    1. Guided by deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, UTHSC faculty members recognize the special responsibilities placed on them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end, faculty members devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although faculty members may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry
    2. As teachers, UTHSC faculty members encourage the free pursuit of learning in students and professional trainees. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Faculty members demonstrate respect for students and professional trainees as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Faculty members make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students and professional trainees reflect each individual's true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student or professional trainee. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students or professional trainees. They protect the academic freedom of their students and professional trainees. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. Faculty members who have the guidance of students or professional trainees as their responsibility must exercise the greatest care not to appropriate the student's or professional trainee's ideas, research, or presentation to their own professional benefit; to do otherwise is to abuse power and trust. In dealing with graduate students or professional trainees, faculty members must demonstrate by precept and example the necessity of rigorous honesty in the use of sources and of utter respect for the work of others. The same expectations apply to the guidance of undergraduate professional students, with a special obligation to acquaint students with the world of higher education in a health science center, including its standards and procedures for ensuring intellectual honesty
    3. As colleagues, UTHSC faculty members have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Faculty members do not discriminate against or harass colleagues or other employees. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas, faculty members show due respect for the opinions of others. Faculty members acknowledge academic debt - for ideas, methods, and expressions - by means appropriate to the form of communication and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of others. Faculty members must make clear the respective contributions of colleagues on a collaborative project. Faculty members accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of UTHSC.
    4. As members of an academic institution, UTHSC faculty members seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although faculty members observe the stated regulations of UTHSC, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision of such regulations. Faculty members give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within UTHSC in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, faculty members recognize the effect of their decision on academic programs of UTHSC and give due notice of their intentions. The departure of a faculty member always requires changes and may entail major adjustments on the part of faculty colleagues, the Administration, and students. A faculty member's acceptance of an appointment elsewhere should be followed by prompt notice to UTHSC.
    5. As members of their community, UTHSC faculty members have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Faculty members should measure the urgency of these obligations in light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to UTHSC. When they speak or act as private persons, they should avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or UTHSC. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends on freedom for its health and integrity, faculty members have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

3.3 Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct. Faculty members and all other scholars must give full and fair recognition to the contributors to that enterprise, both for the substance and for the formulation of their findings and interpretations. Even within the academic community, however, there are complexities and shades of difference. But none of these situations diminishes the central certainty: taking over the ideas, methods, or written words of another, without acknowledgment and with the intention that they be taken as the work of the deceiver, is plagiarism.

3.4 Misconduct in Research and Service

UTHSC conforms to The University's "Statement of Policy on Misconduct in Research and Service" which is contained in Appendix D. Allegations of the types of misconduct covered by this statement should be communicated in writing to the Chancellor. Disagreements between faculty members concerning issues not covered by this statement should be handled through normal administrative channels (i.e., Chair, Dean, UTHSC Chief Academic Officer, and Chancellor) (Section 6.2) or through the Faculty Senate grievance procedure contained in Section 6.3.

3.5 Conflict of Interests and Compensated Outside Services

UTHSC requires all salaried faculty members to disclose potential conflicts of interests between their duties and responsibilities as employees and their interests outside the scope of their University employment. The policies and procedures used by UTHSC with regard to conflict of interests and compensated outside services are contained in Appendices E and F, respectively.

3.6 Faculty-Student Relationships

The UTHSC student handbook, The Center Scope, contains detailed information on such matters as faculty-student relationships and student conduct. Faculty members should familiarize themselves with its provisions.

Freedoms to teach and learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. Freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, in the clinical setting, on the campus of UTHSC, and in the larger community. The responsibilities to secure and to respect general conditions conducive to this freedom to learn are shared by all members of the academic community. Each college has developed policies and procedures that provide for and safeguard this freedom.

3.6.1 Relationship in Classroom and Clinics

In the classroom and in conference, UTHSC faculty members should encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. A primary duty of a faculty member is encouraging responsible, professional attitudes and conduct on the part of students and professional trainees.

  1. Freedom of Expression. Free and pertinent discussion is welcome at UTHSC. Students and professional trainees are free to take reasonable exception to the information offered in their courses and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. Nonetheless, students and professional trainees are responsible for learning the content of the courses in which they are enrolled.
  2. Academic Evaluation. Faculty members must evaluate the performance of students and professional trainees solely on an academic and professional basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic or professional standards. To this end, faculty members should make honest, professional judgments on the academic and professional performance of their students and professional trainees. Furthermore, faculty members should state clearly and explicitly the basis for academic or professional evaluation in their courses, thereby minimizing the possibility of misunderstandings on the part of the student, the professional trainee, or the faculty member.
  3. Protection Against Improper Disclosure. Information about views, beliefs, and political associations, held by any student or professional trainee, and which faculty members acquire in the course of their work (i.e., as course directors, instructors, advisors, preceptors, counselors, etc.) should be considered confidential. Protection against improper disclosure is a serious professional obligation. Judgments of ability and character may be provided under appropriate circumstances, normally with the knowledge or consent of the student or professional trainee.

3.6.2 Services for Students with Disabilities

The UTHSC is committed to creating a learning environment accessible to otherwise qualified, disabled individuals who may have learning, psychological, or physical disabilities that can be accommodated reasonably. UTHSC, its Faculty, Administration, and students with disabilities share the joint responsibility in achieving this goal. The UTHSC policy conforms to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

3.6.3 Student Records

At UT Memphis a student's academic, health, and disciplinary records are maintained separately. A student's academic and health records are confidential and not available to others, except by request with authorization from the student or the student's legal representative. Transcripts of academic records are available only to the individual student or the student's legal representative and to authorized members of the Administration and Faculty. Information from disciplinary and counseling records is not available to unauthorized persons on campus or to any person off campus without the express written consent of the student or the student's legal representative, except under legal compulsion or in cases where the safety of persons or property is involved. Non-academic student records will be reviewed periodically and destroyed when no longer current. The stipulations described above do not apply to notes and records kept by individual faculty members as an aid to their memory. However, administrative staff and faculty members should respect confidential information about students that they acquire in the course of their work (Section 3.6.1). The UTHSC student handbook, The Center Scope, contains information on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as well as additional details on student records.

3.6.4 The Honor Code

The text of the Honor Code of UTHSC is included in The Center Scope and in Appendix G. All colleges follow honor systems for the conduct of examinations and the observance of high moral and ethical standards. College honor councils, with elected representation from each class, have the responsibility of investigating and adjudicating infractions of the Honor Code and recommending disciplinary action to the Dean.

Nothing in the Honor Code shall be construed or interpreted to inhibit or otherwise constrain the Faculty from properly discharging their professional duty and responsibility to assess student learning. Faculty members are not constrained from being present to supervise the room arrangement for the examination, to supervise or conduct the distribution of the examination itself, to provide information and instructions at the beginning of the test period, or to terminate the examination and collect exam papers at the end of the test period. Although the primary responsibility for enforcing the Honor Code lies with the students, faculty members should report Honor Code violations of which they have personal knowledge to the Honor Council of the appropriate college.

3.6.5 Faculty Responsibilities in Relation to the Honor Code

According to the Honor Code, UTHSC faculty members "participate in the Honor Code by endorsing and supporting the principles of the Code and by applying its rules and procedures." The following are the responsibilities and guidelines for this role:31

  1. To be an active participant, faculty members must understand the Code and its implementation. The Student Honor Code not only applies to tests and examinations but also to "oral, written, or practical reports that are part of a student's academic and research program; clinical and laboratory experiences; scientific research; and other student activities relating to the academic, clinical, and research programs of UTHSC." Upon appointment, all new faculty members must be informed in writing of the existence of the Honor Code and that acceptance of a position at UTHSC indicates a willingness to cooperate with the students in carrying out the system. Each year an orientation program should be conducted for all new faculty members; topics covered should include the Faculty's role and responsibilities in relation to the Honor Code. Copies should be distributed and orientation held for all faculty members.
  2. Faculty members should state clearly and explicitly in advance what, if any, assistance is allowed in completing assignments (e.g., other faculty members, other students, reference materials, etc.).
  3. Faculty members are expected to demonstrate and promote integrity in implementation and documentation of patient care and in the conduct and reporting of research.
  4. Faculty members should discuss professional ethical conduct with students under their supervision.
  5. Faculty members are expected to teach proper documentation of scholarly work and demonstrate this in their practice.
  6. Faculty members are expected and obligated to report observed violations of the Honor Code to a member of the appropriate college Honor Council. The complaint must be written and signed. Faculty members may not use their own sanctions as substitutes for reporting violations.
  7. Each college has its own policy, listed in the Honor Code document, regarding proctoring of examinations. Faculty members are expected to follow the guidelines of the appropriate college.
  8. Faculty members are expected to participate in the investigation of an alleged violation by providing information to the Honor Code investigator. A faculty member may also be asked to provide testimony to the Honor Court.
  9. Faculty members are appointed as advisors to college Honor Councils to "provide advice and counsel."

3.6.6 Faculty Responsibilities in Relation to the Ethical and Professional Standards for Students

The text of the Ethical and Professional Standards of Students of UTHSC is included in The Center Scope. A faculty member reports an alleged violation of the ethical and professional standards to the Department Chair, who sends the report to the Dean of the appropriate college. The Dean notifies the UTHSC Student Affairs Officer who implements procedures of the Student Judicial System. For alleged acts of misconduct in research or service, faculty members follow the policy and procedures described in Section 3.4 Misconduct in Research and Service.


  1. Throughout The University of Tennessee Policies Governing Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure, many terms are used generically. "The University" refers to The University of Tennessee. "Campus" refers to the primary campuses of The University, the UT Institute of Agriculture, and the UT Space Institute. "Chancellor" refers to the Chancellor or Vice President of the unit. "Department" refers to the smallest academic unit (in some cases a "college", "school", or "division"; similarly, "department head" refers to "chair", "director", or "dean" as appropriate. "Faculty Senate" refers to the UTC, UTK, UTM, UTHSC, and UTIA campus governance body of elected faculty members, and "Faculty Senate Executive Committee" refers to that committee or its comparable group of elected Senate officers. "Chief Academic Officer" refers to the campus provost or academic vice chancellor, etc.
  2. The word "teaching" includes the set of instructional activities that normally occurs in classrooms, laboratories, clinical sites, and in directed study, etc.; "research" includes both scholarly investigation and the creation of works of art related to a faculty member's academic appointment; "service" includes public service, institutional service, and other assigned professional/clinical service responsibilities.
  3. This Statement of Professional Ethics of the UTHSC Faculty was adopted by the UTHSC Faculty Senate on November 8, 1994.
  4. This statement of Faculty Responsibilities in Relation to the Honor Code was adopted by the UTHSC Faculty Senate on December 13, 1994.