To better appreciate the current tensions that arise from accountability directives and the American university’s mission, it is important to fi rst recognize the historic construction of American liberal-democratic sentiments as they apply to higher education. Particularly in the American democratic context, the ideals of liberalism and the democratic impulse for social egalitarianism inform the creation and evolution of our aims for social institutions like the university, as well as the expectations imposed on and demanded of the university by external communities — for example, government and society. These challenges to the autonomy of the university also prompt and encourage internal university authorities to create their own set of reporting procedures to appease external authority. These accountability systems imposed by internal authorities such as boards of trustees, presidents, provosts, and other administrators, can challenge faculty autonomy and, ultimately, the freedom of individual student learners.