There is increasing support for the proposition that academic health centers have a duty to accept broad responsibility for the health of their communities. The Health of the Public program has proposed that centers become directly involved in the social-political process as advocates for reform of the health care system. Such engagement raises important issues about the roles and responsibilities of centers and their faculties. To address these issues, the authors draw upon the available literature and their experiences in recent health care reform efforts in Minnesota and Vermont in which academic health center faculty participated. The authors discuss (1) the problematic balance between academic objectivity and social advocacy that faculty must attempt when they engage in the health care reform process; (2) the management of the sometimes divergent interests of academic health centers, some of their faculty, and society (including giving faculty permission to engage in reform efforts and developing a tacit understanding that distinguishes faculty positions on reform issues from the center’s position on such issues); and (3) the challenge for centers to develop infrastructure support for health reform activities. The authors maintain that academic health centers’ participation in the process of health care reform helps them fulfill the trust of the public that they are obligated to and ultimately depend on.