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June 11, 1923

The Board of Trustees adopted the Vassar College Statute of Instruction, later known as The Governance of Vassar College. The faculty’s assumption of the direction of educational policy, the definition of specific trustee responsibilities and the definition and the specific scope of academic freedom were among its key provisions.

“Section 1: Direction of Educational Policy

The Faculty of Vassar College is entrusted with the direction and control of the educational policy of the college. The initiative in educational matters may arise in the Faculty or in the Board of Trustees, but the Trustees will not establish new departments or change existing departments except after full conference and discussion with the Faculty and its representatives. The Trustees will not accept gifts upon terms which would alter the status or tenure of any members of the faculty without conference in advance with the Faculty.

“Section 2: Questions Requiring Trustee Approval

a) No educational legislation requiring for its enforcement any increase of the budget of instruction may go into effect until approved by the Trustees. b) No legislation involving radical departure from established and traditional requirements for the bachelor’s degree shall be adopted until after conference with or report to the Trustees’ Committee on Faculty and Studies. The determination of the term “radical” in this connection as applied to any legislation shall be made by the President.

“Section 5: Academic Freedom

a) Within the limits of national and state law, all teachers in the service of Vassar College shall enjoy complete liberty of research, of instruction and of utterance upon matters of opinion. The teacher’s exercise of the rights and obligations of a citizen and of a member of the community shall in no way be affected by academic tenure. b) No gift shall be accepted by the Trustees the terms of which would come into conflict with this statute. c) Utterances and discussions in the classroom shall be regarded as privileged, and may not be published by anyone without the authority of the officer concerned. d) In enjoying these rights, upon the principle of academic freedom, the teachers in the service of Vassar College recognize certain correlative obligations. The teacher will bear in mind that the good name of the college rests upon the reputation of its faculty. The teacher’s conclusions should be the fruits of competent and sincere opinion, set forth with dignity, courtesy, and temperateness of language. The teacher should accept full responsibility for all utterances. His essential function as a teacher is not to dogmatize but to train students to think for themselves, and to provide them access to the necessary materials.”

The first of its kind, this document became a model for other institutions.

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