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Academic Freedom for Academic Administrators

CAUT Policy Statement

All post-secondary institutions’ administrators who continue as members of the academic staff of their institutions while fulfilling administrative roles enjoy the full protection of academic freedom in the fulfillment of their academic duties as described in CAUT’s "Policy Statement on Academic Freedom" and related CAUT policies. This protection extends to all academic administrative staff, irrespective of rank, up to and including the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of post-secondary institutions. It extends to all academic staff excluded from the academic staff bargaining unit by virtue of administrative office.

The exercise of academic freedom serves the common good of society and should not be constrained by appeals to such notions as loyalty to administrative leadership, cabinet solidarity, management rights, commitment to a team, or speaking with one voice.

The academic freedom of academic staff continues indivisible and undiminished in all academic and public settings, whether or not these settings are aligned primarily with teaching, research, administration, community service, institutional policy, or public policy. 

Where a decision has been achieved by consensus, by majority vote, or through the exercise of legitimate authority, that fact does not constrain members of the academic staff, including those holding administrative appointments, from exercising their academic freedom by criticizing the decision.

Academic staff who are members of their institution’s governing body shall retain their academic freedom while serving in that capacity.    

Tenure constitutes a primary procedural safeguard of academic freedom. It is essential that new academic administrators know whether their administrative appointments incorporate continuing tenure in an academic department that would apply should they lose their administrative appointments for any reason.

Tenure may be granted to an academic administrator only after following all the relevant provisions for tenure that apply to other members of the academic staff. Academic staff who hold tenure and assume an academic administrative position, including positions on boards of governors, should automatically return to their tenured academic staff position when their administrative appointment terminates for any reason.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2010;
Editorial revision November 2019;
Reviewed-no changes, February 2024.