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C150: Political Activities of UNM Faculty

Approved by: Faculty and Board of Regents
Effective: April 10, 2023
Responsible Faculty Committee: Faculty Senate Policy Committee
Office Responsible for Administration: Office of the Provost and Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences

Revisions to the Policy Rationale, Policy Statement, and Applicability sections of this document must be approved by the full Faculty and Board of Regents.

Policy Rationale

The University of New Mexico (UNM) recognizes the right of free speech and expression of opinion on any subject by any member of the UNM community, whether the subject relates to on- or off-campus issues. UNM faculty members are citizens and are free to engage in political activies consistent with their obligations as teachers and scholars subject to appropriate time, manner, and place restrictions in accordance with applicable policies and laws. This Policy document provides policies and procedures pertaining to the political activity of UNM faculty.

Policy Statement

This Policy pertains to extramural political activities of faculty and is not intended to place any restrictions on the academic freedom of faculty members. Academic freedom is defined in Section B of the Faculty Handbook, including Appendices I "1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments" and VII "Committee A Statement on Extramural Utterances," which are documents from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Below are excepts from these appendices desgined to provide guidance to faculty; however, the faculty should read the full documents to ensure a thorough understanding of the issues addressed and their rights and responsibilities.

Appendix I excerpt: "(a) Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in publication of the results subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution. (b) Faculty are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter unless it is in relation to their subject."

Appendix VII excerpt: "The 1940 Statement of Principles asserts the right of faculty members to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline. At the same time it calls attention to the special obligations of faculty members arising from their position in the community: to be accurate, to exercise appropriate restraint, to show respect for the opinions of others, and to make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution."

An advisory opinion may be requested from the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee about the meaning or application of this Policy.

1. Extramural Political Activity

All extramural political activity, except that clearly of a consultative nature or under contract through UNM and which is directly in the field or fields of one's professional competencies, should be entirely disassociated from one's UNM relationship. By this is meant that the faculty member should not create the impression that they are acting either for, in behalf of, or with the approval of UNM rather than as an individual citizen.

Many kinds of extramural political activity (e.g., holding part-time office in a political party, seeking election to any office under circumstances that do not require extensive campaigning, or serving by appointment or election in a part-time political office) are consistent with effective service as members of a faculty. Other kinds of political activity (e.g., intensive campaigning for elective office, serving in a state legislature, or serving a limited term in a full-time position) may require that the faculty member seek a leave of absence from UNM.

In recognition of the legitimacy and social importance of political activity by faculty members, UNM should provide institutional arrangements to permit it, similar to those applicable to other public or private extramural service. Such arrangements may include the reduction of the faculty member's workload or a leave of absence for the duration of an election campaign accompanied by equitable adjustment of compensation when necessary.

1.1 Leave of Absence Without Pay

A leave of absence should be sought by anyone who becomes or anticipates becoming overly committed to either a major political campaign, an appointive post in an agency of government, an elective position in public office, or any political activity which results in interference with UNM function. Such leave is not automatic and should be governed by the priority needs and considerations of the department, school, college, or division concerned. A leave of absence incident to political activity should come under UNM's normal rules and regulations for leave of absence subject to the provisions of Faculty Handbook Policy C280 "Leave Without Pay."

Faculty members seeking leave without pay should recognize that they have a primary obligation to UNM and to growth as educators and scholars, and they should be mindful of the problem which leaves of absence can create for administration, colleagues, and students. If adjustments in their favor are made, such as a reduction of workload, they should expect them to be limited to a reasonable period. Such a leave should not affect unfavorably the tenure status of a faculty member, except that time spent on such leave from academic duties need not count as probationary service. The terms of a leave and its effect on the professor's status should be set forth in writing.

1.1.1 Election to the New Mexico Legislature

Should a faculty member be elected to the New Mexico Legislature, they are prohibited by New Mexico state law from receiving dual compensation; therefore, the faculty member would need to either resign their position or be placed on leave of absence without pay for the entire period they are receiving compensation for the elected office.

1.1.2 Other Appointments or Commitments Requiring Significant Effort

A faculty member accepting a temporary appointment or commitment that requires significant effort outside of their faculty duties that exceeds time allowed by Faculty Handbook Policy C130 "Outside Employment" shall notify their supervisor who may require the faculty member to apply for a leave of absence without pay. Granting of such leave is not automatic and is subject to the provisions of Faculty Handbook Policy C280 "Leave Without Pay." If leave is not granted, the faculty member would be required to resign their position if they wish to pursue the appointment or commitment.


All UNM academic faculty and administrators.

Revisions to the remaining sections of this document may be amended with the approval of the Faculty Senate Policy Committee and Faculty Senate Operations Committee in consultation with the responsible Faculty Senate Committee listed in Policy Heading.


There are no specific definitions required by this Policy.

Who should read this policy

  • Faculty
  • Department chairs, academic deans, and other academic administrators and executives

Related Documents

UNM Regents' Policy Manual

Faculty Handbook:

University Administrative Policies


Direct any questions about this policy to the Office of the Provost or the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences.


Political Activity Guidelines

The following guidelines apply to all UNM employees who are candidates or who campaign for candidates for political office:

  1. Campaigning during work hours at the University is prohibited.
  2. UNM supplies, equipment, postage, or clerical time for political activities, including campaign purposes, may not be used.
  3. Personal political views or views of any candidate may not be representated as being those of UNM.
  4. Employee mailing labels (either home or office addresses) will not be produced by UNM for distributing campaign materials. (A candidate may obtain addresses from the UNM student, faculty, staff directory or other published address lists.)
  5. Campaign material will not be distributed through Campus Mail unless it has been received from a federal post office and is properly postmarked. Campus Mail may not be used internally to distribute campaign literature.


  • April 10, 2023 - Approved by Board of Regents
  • June 2022 - Approved by Faculty
  • September 1970 - Approved by Board of Regents
  • April 1970 - Approved by Faculty