Academic Specialist Manual

2.0 General Academic Rights and Responsibilities

Academic specialists have rights and responsibilities which flow from particular appointment contexts as well as from their general affiliation with Michigan State University. Any statement of rights and associated responsibilities connotes a reciprocating expectation of performance by both the academic specialist and the University. Academic specialists are covered by applicable policies adopted by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees and those implemented through administrative action. Board of Trustees policies appear as actions recorded in the minutes of the Board and are reproduced in the Board of Trustees Policy Manual, the Faculty Handbook, and other University publications.

Academic specialists have other rights and responsibilities which specifically flow from their assigned duties and responsibilities. Normally, academic specialists are assigned to duties and responsibilities performed by faculty members but with a more narrow scope and focus. These assignments involve teaching, advising, curriculum development, research, and public service/outreach. As applicable in particularly assigned duties, academic specialists are expected to serve as scholars in the pursuit of knowledge and its free expression, as teachers and/or advisors, in providing instruction and advice to students, and as professionals and citizens contributing their special knowledge and skills through public service/outreach and community participation. Fundamentally, academic specialists perform their teaching/advising/curriculum development, research, and public service/outreach responsibilities in ways to ensure academic freedom and responsibility, a context essential to the University's goal of advancing the unfettered search for knowledge and its free exposition. For academic specialists, the principal elements of academic freedom applicable to relevant assigned duties include:

  1. The right, as teachers, to discuss in the classroom any material which has a significant relationship to the subject matter as defined in the approved course description;
  2. The right to determine course content, grading and classroom procedures of courses they teach;
  3. The right, as an academic advisor, to exercise judgment in good faith in advising students on curriculum, class, and career choices;
  4. The right to engage in curriculum development activities;
  5. The right to conduct research and to engage in creative endeavors;
  6. The right to publish or present research findings and creative work;
  7. The right to engage in public service/outreach activities;
  8. The right to seek changes in institutional policies through established University procedures and by lawful and peaceful means.

Academic freedom carries with it responsibilities for academic specialists, and principal elements include:

  1. The responsibility to carry out assigned teaching/advising/curriculum development, research and public service/outreach duties in a professional manner in keeping with University policies;
  2. The responsibility, as teachers, to refrain from introducing matters which are not consistent with their teaching duties and professional competence and which have no significant bearing on the subject matter of the course as approved under University procedures;
  3. The responsibility, as academic advisors, to adhere to the policies governing privacy of student records;
  4. The responsibility to pursue excellence and intellectual honesty in teaching, research and other creative endeavors, and public service/outreach activities; and in publishing or presenting research findings and creative work;
  5. The responsibility to encourage students and colleagues to engage in free discussion and inquiry; and to evaluate student and colleague performance on a scholarly basis;
  6. The responsibility to work in a collegial manner with appropriate individuals and bodies to encourage the search for knowledge, its free exposition, and the University's continuing quest for excellence;
  7. The responsibility to differentiate carefully their official activities as academic specialists from their personal activities as citizens and, when the situation warrants, to make it clear that, when speaking as private citizens, they do not speak for the University.

[While the policy on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, approved by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees in July 1984, does not apply to academic specialists, readers are referred to this document's sections on teaching, research and creative activity, public service, relations with colleagues, and relation to the University and community, all of which provide a fuller narrative context for enumerated rights and responsibilities of academic specialists referenced above.]

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