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Academic Freedom and Tenure: Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

 The report of the Association's investigating committee describes actions by the administration of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico to suspend and then to dismiss a tenured professor, without any severance salary, once it was informed that she had remarried in a civil ceremony after a previous Catholic marriage had ended, thirteen years earlier, in civil divorce. The administration justified its action by stating that faculty members at the university, which was canonically established by the Holy See, must adhere even in their private lives to the laws of the church, under which the professor's marital life following her civil remarriage was considered to be sinful. At the time of her initial appointment she was warned orally of this constraint but she states that she explicitly refused to acquiesce in it.

The investigating committee concluded that the ad- ministration, by suspending the professor without any evidence that her continuance threatened immediate harm to herself or to her students, acted in disregard of the applicable provisions of the 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings.

Following her suspension, the professor was afforded a hearing before a presidentially appointed examiner, who upheld the administration's position that her civil remarriage constituted unacceptable conduct warranting dismissal. The president then notified the professor that he was recommending her dismissal to the board of trustees. The investigating committee concluded that the administration, in moving to dismiss the professor for reasons unrelated to her fitness as a teacher or researcher, acted in disregard of the applicable provisions of the Association's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

The investigating committee found that the professor was at no time provided with an opportunity to contest the administration's actions before a duly constituted faculty hearing committee, or before the board of trustees. The committee concluded that the administration and the board thereby acted in violation of the provision in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure that the accused faculty member has the right to be heard by all bodies passing judgment on the case.

The investigating committee found that the administration's actions against the professor were based on sweeping religious norms not demonstrably related to professional performance. This action invaded her privacy and constituted a violation of her personal rights and freedom. The unpredictable reach of the religious norms to which faculty members are subject creates a constant threat to academic freedom at the university. Committee A recommended to the Seventy-Third Annual Meeting that the Catholic University of Puerto Rico be placed on the Association's list of Censured Administrations .