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University Policy 104

Review of Gifts that Affect Academic Freedom or Curriculum

Approved by Executive Council: December 8, 2008
Posted: December 12, 2008
Revised and effective:  November 21, 2016
Revised: April 17, 2017

Policy Topic: Academic Affairs; Advancement and Public Relations
Administering Offices: Office of the Provost; Office of Development and Alumni Engagement; and Legal Counsel's Office


Western Carolina University (the “University”) and its associated support organizations and bodies, including the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund of Western Carolina University, Western Carolina Research and Development Corporation, and Western Carolina University Foundation (the “Support Organizations”), acknowledge that recent shifts in higher education funding generally have resulted in increased focus and reliance on charitable gifts and donations.  The University and its Support Organizations also acknowledge that reliance on private philanthropy requires the University to strike the appropriate balance between institutional fiscal welfare and interests and the independence of its academic programs.  Accordingly, it is the policy of the University to consult with faculty in the review of donor gift proposals that could or would impact either academic freedom or curriculum.


This policy applies to major gift proposals in the amount of $25,000 or greater given to the Support Organizations, for the benefit of the University, that affect or may affect academic freedom or curriculum as those terms are defined in this policy.  

For illustrative purposes, this policy applies to the following gifts that affect academic freedom: (1) gifts to teach specific courses or subjects; and (2) gifts that prescribe how courses or subjects should be taught, and/or the texts and materials to be used. For illustrative purposes, this policy applies to the following gifts that affect curriculum: (1) gifts to establish, change or alter an academic program; (2) gifts to establish a new endowed professorship; or (3) gifts to establish a new center or institute.

This policy does not apply to the following: (1) grants or other external funding arrangements managed by the Office of Research Administration; (2) gifts to establish scholarships or other forms of financial aid for students; (3) unrestricted gifts of any kind; (4) gifts for University facilities; (5) gifts of real property; (6) in-kind gifts of personal property; or (7) gifts for University athletic programs or facilities.



“academic freedom” for purposes of this policy means: (1) freedom in the classroom – pedagogical authority to teach and manage the classroom, select texts and educational materials, and develop syllabi and course content; (2) freedom in research, independence of scholarly inquiry, and freedom to publish results; and (3) freedom to promote and strengthen the open exchange of independent and diverse ideas among members of the campus community.

“curriculum” for purposes of this policy generally means student academic experiences at the University that are planned and developed consistent with stated institutional academic program goals, objectives, and student learning outcomes, and specifically means those courses and programs of study developed by the faculty pursuant to established University of North Carolina and University policies and procedures for curriculum development.  The term curriculum does not encompass individual course development, which is the responsibility of individual faculty members and within the purview of their academic freedom and responsibility.    

“donor” for purposes of this policy means a person or an entity that gives a gift for the benefit of the University.

“entity” for purposes of this policy means a corporation, company, partnership, association, foundation, non-governmental organization, trust or estate.

“gift” for purposes of this policy means a voluntary, irrevocable transfer of money, real property, or tangible or intangible personal property, including securities, to the Support Organizations for philanthropic purposes, without the expectation of payment, services, goods or other consideration given in return.

“gift review committee” means the committee established under Section V of this policy.

grant” for purposes of this policy means funding awarded to the University by an external sponsor to support a specific research, scholarship or instructional project upon an application by a University faculty member or other authorized principal investigator.  A grant typically involves a mutually beneficial arrangement, with deliverables owing to the sponsor.  Grant agreements typically contain a number of terms and conditions, including without limitation, reporting requirements, specific restrictions on how money may be spent based upon a detailed line item budget, project start and end dates, indemnification provisions, and/or requests that unused funds be returned to the sponsor.

 “unrestricted gift” means a gift that may be used for any lawful purpose as determined by the chancellor of the University.


The vice chancellor for development and alumni engagement (the “Vice Chancellor”) shall oversee the following roles and responsibilities on behalf of the Support Organizations.

The Vice Chancellor shall consult with University legal counsel in the development of a standard form of gift agreement, and shall require the use of the standard agreement in connection with development activities. 

Six (6) months following the adoption of the 2016 revisions to this policy, the Vice Chancellor shall arrange to meet with the faculty senate to provide a general report on gift development in that period of time.  Thereafter, the Vice Chancellor shall meet with the faculty senate at the end of each academic year to discuss the Support Organizations' activities and goals and to review this policy pursuant to Section VI below.

The Vice Chancellor shall meet regularly with the provost regarding gift development activities, and the University legal counsel shall be consulted concerning potential gifts that may have academic freedom and/or curriculum implications.  The Vice Chancellor, provost, and University legal counsel, in consultation with the chair of the Faculty Senate, shall determine whether gift review procedures outlined in this policy should be implemented.  


 A.  Gift Review Committee

The gift review committee (the “Committee”) is hereby established as a standing University committee. The Committee shall be comprised of ex-officio and elected members.  The chair of the Faculty Senate shall serve ex-officio with vote, and shall be the chair of the Committee.  The provost shall also be a member of the Committee, serving ex-officio without vote.  Ex-officio members shall serve on the Committee as long as they occupy their institutional office.

The Committee shall also include one (1) faculty member elected from each of the six (6) colleges: Arts and Sciences; Business; Health and Human Sciences; Education and Allied Professions; Fine and Performing Arts; and Engineering and Technology. A qualified nominee must be a member of his/her college curriculum committee.  A faculty representative shall also be elected from Hunter Library. All elections shall be managed by the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Nominations, Elections, and Committees. 

Initially, the chair shall designate approximately one-half (1/2) of the elected Committee members for a term of one (1) year and one-half (1/2) shall be designated for a term of two (2) years.  Upon the expiration of these initial staggered terms, successors shall be elected for two-year terms.

The Committee shall have the following duties and responsibilities: (1) review gift proposals that are subject to this policy and make recommendations to the chancellor; (2) consult with the University’s legal counsel concerning the development of a standard gift agreement to be used by the Support Organization, and review proposed revisions to the standard agreement; and (3) consult with the University’s legal counsel concerning proposed revisions to this policy.

B.  Review of Academic Freedom / Curriculum Concerns

  1.  In the event a donor's initial gift proposal could or would affect academic freedom and/or curriculum, in the judgment and discretion of the Vice Chancellor, provost, and University legal counsel, in consultation with the chair of the Faculty Senate, University legal counsel shall notify the chair of the Committee who shall convene a meeting of the Committee.  The chancellor shall be informed that a review under this policy has been initiated.
  2.  Within twenty-one (21) calendar days following notice to the chair, the Committee shall complete its review of the gift proposal, as well as any institutional plans, applications, proposals, reports or other documents, if any, related to the gift proposal.  The Committee may invite members of the faculty and/or University officials to address specific questions or concerns.
  3.  In addition to reviewing academic freedom and/or curriculum concerns, the Committee shall evaluate the impact or potential impact of the gift proposal relative to the University's academic and institutional short-term and long-term strategic goals and objectives, the current University budget, and short-term and long-term budget plans.
  4.  Following the Committee's review, the chair shall meet with the chancellor to discuss the Committee's recommendations pertaining to the gift proposal.  The chancellor shall consult with the provost following receipt of the Committee's recommendations.  The chancellor is ultimately responsible for determining whether or not to accept the gift and, if accepted, under what terms.

C.  Review of Gift Agreements by Legal Counsel

Prior to execution, all final drafts of gift agreements that are subject to review under this policy shall be reviewed by University legal counsel to protect the University’s interests and ensure consistency with the chancellor’s determination. University legal counsel shall inform the chair of the Committee of key provisions of the executed agreement pertaining to academic freedom and/or curriculum.


This policy shall be reviewed at the end of each academic year or earlier as may be necessary, with particular attention to policy application, implementation, efficacy, and impact on development activities, and revised as necessary.

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