Suspension or Termination for Cause
When there is an allegation of gross neglect of duty or other applicable cause sufficient to warrant suspension or termination of a faculty member during the term of an appointment, the following procedures shall apply:
A. Preliminary Proceedings
When reason arises to question the fitness of a faculty member who has Tenure or whose term of appointment has not expired, the appropriate administrative officers shall discuss the matter with the faculty member. If a resolution is not achieved, an ad hoc committee of three (3) faculty members will be formed. Within seven (7) days of a request by the University Provost, one member will be selected by the Faculty Council and one will be selected by the provost. A third committee member will be selected by the other two within seven (7) days of their appointment. The committee shall attempt to effect a settlement and, if unsuccessful, shall make a recommendation as to whether formal proceedings should be instituted. The committee’s responsibilities must be discharged within fourteen (14) days of its formation. If the committee recommends the institution of proceedings, or if the provost — even after considering a recommendation of the committee that proceedings not be instituted — decides that proceedings should be undertaken, action shall be commenced under the procedures which follow. Except when there is disagreement, a detailed statement of the grounds for the proposed suspension or termination shall then be jointly formulated by the provost and the faculty committee; if there is a disagreement, or the committee has failed to make a recommendation within the fourteen (14)-day time limit, the provost may formulate the statement.
B. Commencement of Formal Proceedings
The provost shall start formal proceedings by transmitting a copy of the statement to the faculty member, and a notice informing him/her that, if he/she so requests, a hearing to determine whether suspension or termination should be imposed will be conducted by a faculty Hearing Committee no sooner than twenty (20) nor more than thirty (30) days from the date of mailing of the notice. The notice shall be sent by certified mail to the faculty member’s home address. The faculty member shall, at least five (5) days before the date set for the hearing, indicate in writing whether or not he/she wishes a hearing and, if so, respond in writing to the charges.
C. Suspension of Faculty Member
Suspension of the faculty member during the procedures involving him/her is justified if, in the opinion of the provost, harm to him/her or to others is threatened by his/her continuance. Any such suspension shall be with pay.
D. Hearing Committee
A Hearing Committee of five (5) faculty members shall be formed, two (2) selected by the Faculty Council, two (2) selected by the provost, and one (1) selected by the other four. The committee shall elect its own chair. The choice of members of the Hearing Committee should be based on their objectivity and competence and the regard in which they are held in the academic community.
E. Committee Procedures
The Committee shall proceed by considering the statement of grounds for suspension or termination and the faculty member’s written response.
If any facts are in dispute, the testimony of witnesses and other evidence concerning the matter shall be received.
The University Provost may designate an appropriate representative to assist in presenting the charges, but the committee shall determine the order of proof, conduct the questioning of witnesses and, if necessary, secure the presentation of any information deemed important to the case.
The faculty member shall have the option of assistance by counsel. The committee may require the production of documents or the attendance of witnesses. The faculty member or his/her counsel and the representative designated by the provost shall have the right to question all witnesses who testify orally. The faculty member shall have the opportunity to be confronted by all witnesses adverse to him/her. Where for unusual reasons deemed appropriate by the committee a witness cannot appear, the identity of the witness as well as his/her statements shall be disclosed to the faculty member. Subject to these safeguards, statements may, if necessary, be taken outside the hearing and be reported to the committee. The hearing shall be electronically recorded and any party may obtain a copy at his/her expense. While every effort shall be given the faculty member to fully respond to the charges against him/her, the hearing shall be conducted in an informal manner reasonably calculated to ascertain the truth and shall not be limited by formal rules of evidence or other restrictions usually employed in legal proceedings.
F. Consideration by Hearing Committee
The Committee shall reach its decision on the basis of the record after extending full opportunity to the faculty member or his/her counsel and the representative of the provost to argue orally before it. The committee may request written presentations. The committee will issue its decision within ten (10) days of the conclusion of the hearing. It shall make explicit findings with respect to each of the charges presented and, if warranted, recommend suspension, termination, or other appropriate discipline. The faculty member and the provost shall be notified of the decision in writing.
G. Consideration by the President
The report of the Committee or, in a case in which the faculty member has waived the right to a hearing, the recommendation of the University Provost shall be transmitted to the President who may either reject the recommendation and terminate the proceedings, or forward the documentation to the Board of Trustees with or without the President’s recommendation.
H. Consideration by the Board of Trustees
The Board’s review of the case shall be based on the record of the hearing and any further briefs presented in writing by the principals and/or their representatives. The decision of the Board of Trustees shall be final.
Except for such simple announcements as may be required covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, public statements about the case by either the faculty member or administrative officers should be avoided until consideration has been given to the case by the Board of Trustees. Announcement of the Trustees’ final decision shall include a statement of the Hearing Committee’s findings, if this has not previously been made known. Any official news release to the public shall be made through the provost’s office.
J. Allegations of Misconduct in Scholarship and Research
When allegations of misconduct in scholarship or research have been made against a faculty member, the allegations shall be investigated using the procedures set forth in the University’s Research Misconduct Policy. The Provost’s finding of research misconduct shall not be revisited by the Hearing Committee considering a faculty member’s suspension or termination for cause, but the committee shall, after providing the faculty member an opportunity to be heard pursuant to Section E, recommend an appropriate sanction, which may be suspension, termination, or other appropriate discipline.
K. Allegations of Unlawful Discrimination of Harassment
When allegations of sexual misconduct or unlawful discrimination or harassment have been made against a faculty member, the allegations shall be investigated using the procedures set forth in the University’s Procedures for the Resolution of Sexual Misconduct Complaints Against Faculty, Staff, Affiliates, and Non‐Affiliates or the procedures set forth in Complaint Procedures in Cases of Alleged Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment, as appropriate. A finding of misconduct made pursuant to these procedures shall not be revisited by the Hearing Committee considering a faculty member’s suspension or termination for cause, but the committee shall, after providing the faculty member an opportunity to be heard pursuant to Section E, recommend an appropriate sanction, which may be suspension, termination, or other appropriate discipline.
L. Lesser Forms of Discipline
This policy and several others in the Faculty Handbook provide specific procedures for review and/or appeal of disciplinary actions. Yet on occasion, lesser forms of discipline are required which fall outside these policies. The deans, chairs, and other administrators can explain the procedures that are followed in such cases, and the reasons for them.
Adopted April 18, 2007, by the University Council.
Section K updated May 5, 2015.