University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Academic Freedom for a Free Society
of University

AAUP Principles

From the Wartburg College AAUP Chapter

The American Association of University Professors was founded in 1915 by John Dewey, A.O. Lovejoy, and other eminent scholars because they felt that the quality of higher education in America was dependent on the extent to which the faculty, as highly-trained professionals, maintained primary control over teaching, scholarship, and faculty governance.

One of the fledgling organization’s first undertakings was to formulate principles and standards for a tenure system that would protect the academic freedom of professors in teaching, research, and governance. That formulation, the 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure, provided the first effective defense of academic freedom in American higher education.

In the last ninety years, the AAUP has continued to promote academic excellence by advocating for the highest professional standards. The traditions of tenure, academic freedom, due process, and shared governance that have contributed to making our colleges and universities the best in the world were all established by the AAUP, and have been kept alive and strengthened by its activities.

Academic Freedom and Due Process

The definitive exposition of the principles that support this country’s model tenure system is the AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The 1940 Statement has been endorsed by 213 disciplinary and other higher education associations. A fabulous collection of resources on academic freedom is available on the AAUP’s website.

To assist colleges and universities in developing their own policies supporting academic freedom and tenure, the AAUP has developed several sets of recommended standards and policies. Among these, the most important are the

Shared Governance

Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities. Jointly formulated in 1966 by the Association of Governing Boards (AGB ), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the AAUP, this document contains the definitive understanding of the concept of shared governance.

“What Is Shared Governance Anyway?” An attempt to capture the essence of the 1966 Statement.

“The End of Shared Governance: Looking Ahead or Looking Back.” In this 2003 conference paper distinguished higher education scholar Robert Birnbaum affirms the utility of shared governance as defined in the Statement on Government. His conclusion:

“There is no doubt that, as its critics suggest, faculty participation in shared governance will have the effect of making it more difficult to change the programs and purposes of higher education. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of ideology. The faculty are the primary upholders of the academic culture, and so those that give precedence to the idea of a university as an academic institution—who believe with [the English poet John] Masefield that ‘there are few earthly things more spendid than a university’—are likely also to continue to believe in the importance of shared governance. The basic question to ask is not whether we want to make governance more efficient, but whether we want to preserve truly academic institutions. If the answer is affirmative, then shared governance is the essential precondition.”

The Role of the Faculty in the Accrediting of Colleges and Universities. A set of guidelines and recommendations for applying the principles of shared governance to the process of institutional accreditation.

You can access a treasure trove of additional resources on governance on the AAUP web site.

American Association of University Professors — UIUC Chapter

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Champaign, IL 61820

The University of Illinois AAUP chapter maintains this web site. Opinions expressed by individual contributors to the site represent their personal views and are not necessarily positions of the chapter or any other entity. Opinions expressed by the chapter do not necessarily represent the views of the national AAUP or any other entity.