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Faculty Grievance Process

(Article written and approved by the faculty. Revised February, 2005)

Note: Full descriptions of the following areas are available as follows:

  • Section H: Grievance Committee Membership and Selection
  • Section I: Conflicts of Interest
  • Section J: Committee and Panel Operating Rules
  • Section K: Grievance Procedure Interpretation

A. Overview of the Faculty Grievance Process.The Faculty Grievance Process provides eligible faculty members an opportunity for review of recommendations of the Committee on Faculty (COF) regarding their employment with the University, or of other personnel decisions such as changes in job status or responsibilities that directly relate to their employment with the University. The Grievance Committee operates through three-member Mediation Panels and five-member Appeals Panels, on which its members serve. Mediation Panels attempt to facilitate mutually agreeable resolutions of matters brought before them. Appeals Panels review COF recommendations and direct the COF to reconsider a recommendation if circumstances warrant.

B. Persons Covered by the Faculty Grievance Process

  1. Full-Time Faculty Members.This Article applies to all full-time faculty members (i.e., those holding positions described in Article I.B.1 of the Personnel Policies.)

     

  2. Part-Time Faculty Members. This Article applies to part-time faculty members (i.e., those holding positions described in Article I.A.1 of the Personnel Policies) only with regard to grievances concerning release or dismissal from faculty responsibilities. Any other type of complaint by a part-time faculty member must be taken up directly with the Vice President for Academic Affairs whose decision is final.

C. Petition for COF Review of Actions That Were Not Previously the Subject of a COF Recommendation.A faculty member may request COF review of a certain personnel action that was not previously the subject of a COF recommendation under the following procedure.

  1. Types of Actions Subject to Review
    a. Full-Time Faculty. Full-time faculty members as defined in section B.1 above may request review of personnel decisions that directly relate to that faculty member's employment with the University that were not the subject of a COF recommendation, such as changes in job status and responsibilities.
    b. Part-Time Faculty. Part-Time Faculty members as defined in section B.2 above may request COF review only of decisions releasing or dismissing them from faculty responsibilities.

     

  2. Procedure for Requesting COF Review
    a. Written Request. A petition requesting COF review must be in writing and include a specific description of the decision the Petitioner is asking the COF to review, along with copies of all other documents the Petitioner wishes the COF to consider regarding the subject of the grievance.
    b. Deadline for Request. The request for COF review must be submitted within 30 days after the Petitioner is advised of the decision that is the subject of the Petitioner's request. (See Calculation of Time, section J.1.)

     

  3. COF Discretion to Grant or Deny Review.The COF has discretion to grant or deny review in response to requests made under section C.2. If the COF denies review, the Petitioner's opportunity for review under this Article is concluded.

     

  4. COF Response and Review
    a. Deadline for Response. The COF has five days from the receipt of the Petitioner's request to respond to the Petitioner in writing, stating whether or not it will grant review.
    b. Deadline for Review. If the COF decides to grant review, it then has 10 days from the date of its decision to grant review to issue a written recommendation.

D. Petition for COF Review of a COF Recommendation.A Petitioner may request review of a COF recommendation, including a recommendation issued under section C.4 above, under the following procedure.

  1. Consultation with Department Chair or Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs.The Petitioner is encouraged, although not required, to consult with his or her Department Chair or Dean and the Vice President of Academic Affairs regarding the challenged recommendation before requesting COF review.

     

  2. Deadline for Petition.The Petitioner must submit to COF a written petition for review of its recommendation within 10 days of being informed in writing of the recommendation.

     

  3. Subjects of Mandatory and Discretionary Review.Upon timely written request, the COF must review recommendations regarding tenure or reappointment. Normally, in cases involving promotion, the COF will not review recommendations unless there has been a prolonged denial of promotion. The COF has discretion to deny review of other types of recommendations.

     

  4. Deadlines for COF Response.
    a. Denial of Review. If the COF exercises its discretion to deny review, it must advise the Petitioner in writing of the denial within five days of receiving the request for review. The Petitioner may then request review by the Grievance Committee. (See section E below.)
    b. Review. If review is mandatory based on the type of recommendation involved, or if the COF grants review, it must respond in writing to the petitioner within 10 days of receiving the petition.
    i. Reissuance of Original Recommendation. If the original COF recommendation stands, the COF response must give the reason(s) for the original recommendation.
    ii. Revision of Original Recommendation. If the COF's original recommendation is revised, the COF response must give the reason(s) for the revised recommendation and the procedure followed in arriving at the original and revised recommendations. If the Petitioner decides not to petition the Grievance Committee, the revised recommendation will then be forwarded to the President.
    iii. No Successive Requests for COF Review. If the Petitioner disagrees with a revised COF recommendation, he or she may not again petition the COF for review, but may proceed with appeal through the Grievance Committee as described in section E below.

E. Petition to Grievance Committee

  1. Deadline for Petition.The Petitioner has three days after receiving notice of the COF's response per section D.4 above to submit to the Chair of the Faculty three copies of a request in writing for Grievance Committee review.

     

  2. Content of Petition.The Petitioner's request for Grievance Committee review must include a description of the subject matter of the grievance and the reasons for requesting review, along with an explicit waiver allowing disclosure to the Grievance Committee of the COF's grounds for recommendation.

     

  3. Grievance Committee Response and Deadline. The Chair of the Faculty will convene the Grievance Committee members and alternates within four days of receiving the petition for Grievance Committee review. The Grievance Committee will select by random lot from its membership a three-member Mediation Panel and a five-member Appeals Panel. Once the Mediation Panel members are selected, the Appeals Panel members are excused from the proceeding and will have no further involvement if the matter is resolved through mediation.

F. Mediation Panel Process

  1. Submission of Statement Requesting Review to Panel.The Chair of the Faculty will provide the petitioner's statement requesting Grievance Committee review to the Mediation Panel at the time of the panel's selection.

     

  2. Meeting of Panel with Petitioner.The Mediation Panel will meet with the Petitioner within three days of the panel's selection and will decide at that meeting whether mediation efforts appear worthwhile.
    a. Submission of Documents by Petitioner. At this initial meeting of the Mediation Panel with the Petitioner, the Petitioner will provide the panel chair three copies of all documents the Petitioner wishes to submit in support of his or her written statement describing the subject matter of the grievance.
    b. Notification of Cessation of Mediation Efforts. If the Mediation Panel determines at this time, or at any later point in its proceedings, that mediation efforts (or further efforts) are unlikely to be worthwhile, the chair of the Mediation Panel will report in writing that conclusion within two days to the Petitioner, to the chair of the COF, and to the chair of the Appeals Panel. The chair of the Mediation Panel will also return all materials received in connection with the proceeding to the person or persons from whom they were received.

     

  3. Collection of Information from the COF.If the Mediation Panel decides to pursue mediation efforts it will, within one day of the initial meeting with the Petitioner, submit the Petitioner's statement describing the subject matter of the grievance to the COF. The COF will then, within three days of its next meeting provide the Mediation Panel with:
    a. A written response to the Petitioner's description of the subject matter of the grievance;
    b. A copy of the written statement of reasons for the original or revised recommendation that was previously given to the Petitioner, which would include the procedures followed and (if applicable) the revised recommendation (See section D.4 above);
    c. Copies of all documents considered in its deliberations leading to the original or revised recommendation. With Mediation Panel approval, the COF may first provide panel members access to these documents and ask the panel members to select documents they wish to have copied. The COF shall redact identifying material from documents it deems highly confidential so that sources are not disclosed.

     

  4. Mediation Effort.After reviewing the materials described in section F.1, 2a and 3 above, the Mediation Panel will try to resolve the matter through mutual agreement between the Petitioner and COF. This agreement may, but need not, take the form of a compromise. The Mediation Panel will act as a facilitator in this process rather than as an advocate for either the Petitioner or the COF.
    a.Mediation Panel Facilitation Meetings.As part of the facilitation process, the Mediation Panel may meet with the Petitioner and with the COF or its designated representative together and/or separately. However, individual Mediation Panel members may not meet with individual COF members regarding matters at issue in the proceeding unless both their respective bodies authorize them to do so.
    b.Attendance at Mediation Panel Proceedings.The only persons other than Mediation Panel members allowed to be in attendance during mediation efforts are the Petitioner, one or more designated COF representatives, and the Petitioner's adviser per section J.7 below. If the COF participates via a single designated representative, that representative may also have an adviser present per section J.7 below.

     

  5. Mediation Time Frame.The mediation time period should not exceed 10 days from the date the Mediation Panel received the documents described in section F.3 above from the COF. The mediation period may be extended by no more than five days by mutual agreement of the Petitioner and the COF or its designated representative(s).

     

  6. Communication of Result. At the conclusion of its work and no later than the end of the time period described in section F.5 above, the chair of the Mediation Panel will report in writing to the Petitioner, to the COF chair, and to the Chair of the Faculty whether mediation has achieved resolution of the grievance. The Mediation Panel may, at its discretion, also provide its own statement defining the nature of the grievance as the panel members understand it.

G. The Appeals Panel Process

  1. Request for Appeals Panel Review.To request Appeals Panel review, the Petitioner must, within three days of receiving the notification described in sections F.2b or 6 above that mediation efforts are concluded, submit the following materials to the Chair of the Faculty and to the chair of the Appeals Panel:
    a. A written request for Appeals Panel review;
    b. A copy of the statement, previously provided the Chair of the Faculty in section E.2 above, detailing the description of the subject matter of the grievance and the reason for requesting review, or a copy of the Mediation Panel's statement defining the nature of the grievance (See section F.6) along with a written endorsement of that statement which includes any qualifications or exceptions the Petitioner wishes to make.

     

  2. Submission of Documentation to Appeals Panel.Within an additional three days, the Petitioner must submit to the chair of the Appeals Panel copies of all documents the Petitioner wishes to submit in support of that statement.

     

  3. Notification to COF and Submission of Documentation by COF.Within two days of receipt of materials from the Petitioner described in section G.2 above, the Appeals Panel chair will notify the COF in writing of the request for Appeals Panel review. Within three days of receiving this notification, the COF will send to the Appeals Panel the same documents described in section F.3 that it previously sent to the Mediation Panel.

     

  4. Appeals Panel meeting with Petitioner on Nature of the Grievance.Within three days of receipt of the materials from the Petitioner described in section G.2 above, the Appeals Panel will meet with the Petitioner to verify the Appeals Panel's understanding of the Petitioner's definition of the nature of the grievance. No arguments or evidence will be presented at the initial meeting of the Appeals Panel.

     

  5. Appeals Panel Meeting on Procedure.Within three days after the initial meeting with the Petitioner, Appeals Panel members will meet to discuss its procedures for review. The Petitioner and designated COF representative may attend this meeting and may each bring an adviser as described in section J.7 below. The Appeals Panel chair will describe the Appeals Panel's understanding of the grievance, and the Petitioner and COF representative may respond. Again, no arguments or evidence will be presented at this meeting. The Appeals Panel will establish and describe the procedures it plans to follow in conducting its review and will set a date when it will begin the review.

     

  6. Appeals Panel Review Meeting.No less than five or more than 10 days after the procedural meeting described in section G.5 above, the Appeals Panel will meet to allow the Petitioner and COF representative to present additional information. Copies of any documents to be submitted at this meeting by or on behalf of the Petitioner must be provided to the COF representative at least four days prior to the hearing, and, similarly, copies of documents to be submitted on behalf of the COF must be provided to the Petitioner at least four days prior to the hearing.
    a. Earlier Meeting by Mutual Agreement. This meeting may be held earlier than five days after the procedural meeting described in section G.5 above by mutual agreement of the Petitioner and COF representative that also includes an agreed-upon time frame for providing copies of documents to be submitted at the meeting.
    b. Consequence of Failure to Provide Documents in Advance. If a document is presented at the meeting that was not provided in advance in accordance with the above requirement, the person (Petitioner or COF representative) who did not receive the document within the required time frame may have a three-day recess for purpose of preparing a response.

     

  7. Report of Appeals Panel Recommendation.Within three days after holding its review meeting (including, if necessary, continuance of that meeting following a recess as described in section G.6b above), the Appeals Panel will report its recommendation in writing to the Petitioner, to the COF, to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and to the President. The report shall be accompanied by a statement of reasons for the recommendation.
    a. Correctable Procedural Error. If the Appeals Panel concludes that the COF made a correctable procedural error, it shall direct the COF in writing to correct the error and resume the recommendation process from the point of error, according to a time table set in consultation with COF. This does not necessarily mean modification or reversal of the original recommendation.
    i. The COF will report its reconsidered recommendation to the Appeals Panel and the Petitioner, along with a statement of reasons.
    ii. Within three days of receiving the COF's report according to section G.7.a.i above, the Appeals Panel will state in writing to the Petitioner, the COF, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President its opinion as to whether or not the COF's reconsidered recommendation appropriately resolves the matter. The President will then make a final decision.
    b. Other Forms of Error. If the Appeals Panel concludes that the COF has made an error other than a correctable procedural error, it shall report its conclusion to the COF, to the Petitioner, to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and to the President along with its recommendation to the President for retaining, modifying, or reversing the original recommendation. The President will then make a final decision. Such a conclusion of the Appeals Panel might be based on any of the following:
    i. Bias or prejudice;
    ii. Lack of availability of important documents or testimony;
    iii. A recommendation deemed inappropriate in light of the evidence; or
    iv. Violation of academic freedom. Cases involving academic freedom will be reviewed in accordance with the process described in Article VIII, applying principles of the American Association of University Professors as found in the "Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure (1999 revision)" and other AAUPP Policy Statements on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

     

  8. Appeals Panel Review Procedures.
    a. Scope of the Inquiry. During its review, as provided for in sections G.1-7 above, the Appeals Panel will restrict its inquiry to the following questions:
    i. Did the COF consider all important evidence in arriving at its recommendation? If not, would consideration of all such evidence have justified a different recommendation?
    ii. Did the COF consider any improper evidence in arriving at its recommendation? If such evidence had been disregarded, is it likely that a different recommendation would have been made?
    iii. Was the COF's recommendation or the process followed in arriving at that recommendation so inappropriate in any other respect that the COF should revisit that recommendation?
    b. Burden of Proof. The Petitioner will bear the burden of proof. As used herein, "burden of proof" means the responsibility for affirmatively proving, by a preponderance of evidence, disputed facts that bear on the recommendation under review.
    c. Closed Proceedings. The Appeals Panel proceeding attendance shall be limited to Appeals Panel members; the Petitioner; the Petitioner's adviser (if any, per section J.7 below); an observer of the petitioner's choice selected from the general faculty; the designated COF representative; the COF representative's adviser (if any, per section J.7 below); and an observer of the COF representative's choice selected from the general faculty. A witness giving testimony, other than the petitioner or the COF representative, will attend the proceedings only when giving that testimony or responding to questioning.
    d. Presentation of Testimony. The Petitioner and COF representative will have an opportunity to present oral testimony bearing on the case as defined, either personally or through witnesses, and to question any person presenting testimony.
    e. Confidentiality of Sources. No person testifying before the Appeals Panel will be required to disclose confidential sources. However, panel members may take into account the fact that an anonymous source is not available for questioning in arriving at their conclusions.
    f. Panel Member Testimony; COF Spokesperson. No member of the Mediation Panel will testify, and no member of the COF except its designated representative shall speak for the entire COF.
    g. Rules of Evidence and Basis for Conclusions. The Appeals Panel will not be bound by legal rules of evidence, but its findings will be based solely on information obtained as part of the review process.
    h. Record of Proceedings. A written or taped record shall be kept of Appeal Panel review proceedings, to which both the Petitioner and COF representative will have reasonable access. The chair of the Appeals Panel will keep two copies of this record under his or her control until final disposition of the case. After the Appeal Panel's recommendation to the President (See section G.7), both copies of the record of the proceedings and one copy of all documents received by the Appeals Panel as part of its review will be deposited in the University Archives for confidential storage consistent with usual archival procedures. These materials will be available to the President during consideration of the Appeals Panel's recommendation.

H. Grievance Committee Membership and Selection.The Grievance Committee will consist of eight members and eight alternates, all elected from the full-time, tenured faculty (i.e., those holding positions described in Article I.B.1.a(1)(a) of the Personnel Policies). Each of the four University divisions will have two Grievance Committee members and two alternates, elected annually by the full-time faculty members within the division.

  1. Time of Election.Grievance Committee members and alternates will be elected at the time of spring faculty committee elections.

     

  2. Eligibility for Re-Election.Grievance Committee members and alternates are eligible for re-election without limit as to number of terms.

     

  3. Term of Office.Grievance Committee members and alternates will take office at the beginning of the spring semester of the academic year following the year of their election. If a new Grievance Committee takes office while a panel proceeding is pending or in progress, the outgoing Grievance Committee will decide whether to complete the proceeding or to hand it over to the newly-elected Grievance Committee.

     

  4. Balloting.In balloting, the two eligible candidates from each division who receive the highest number of votes within that division are elected as Grievance Committee members. The candidates ranking third and fourth in terms of number of votes received are elected as alternates.

     

  5. Equal Availability of Persons Elected.Once elected, all members are considered equally available to serve without regard to division or to number of votes received, and all alternates are equally available to serve as alternates without regard to division or to number of votes received.

     

  6. COF Members Ineligible. COF members may not serve as Grievance Committee members or alternates during their terms of membership on the COF.

I. Conflicts of Interest. Membership exclusion based on Conflicts of Interestas covered by the policy established by the Committee on Faculty and the Administration and published in the Personnel Policies section (Appendix 3) of the Academic Handbook apply. Other Grievance Committee members, the faculty member who is seeking COF or Grievance Committee review under the procedures described below (the "Petitioner"), the COF, and/or the Vice President of Academic Affairs may request consideration of whether a Grievance Committee member or alternate should be excluded from participation in any particular matter due to a conflict of interest. The final determination whether a conflict of interest justifies the exclusion of a Grievance Committee member from participating in a particular matter will be made by the Chair of the Faculty. If the Chair of the Faculty is recused or challenged because of conflict of interest, then that role will be filled by the most recent past Chair of the Faculty in succession. Questions of conflict of interest may be raised at any time during a proceeding but must be raised prior to the conclusion of that particular proceeding.

J. Committee and Panel Operating Rules

  1. Calculation of Time.All references to period of time in this Article shall be calculated on the basis of in-session days, defined as weekdays on which classes are scheduled during the spring and fall semesters. For actions that must be performed within a certain number of days after occurrence of a certain preceding event (such as receipt of a notification), the day of occurrence of the preceding event will not be counted in the calculation of time. The day on which the action is performed will be counted.

     

  2. Panel Member Absence.Mediation Panels may meet and conduct business if at least two of the three panel members are present. Appeals Panels may meet and conduct business if at least four of the five panel members are present.

     

  3. Panel Chairs.If a panel cannot select a chair by consensus or by majority vote, the Chair of the Faculty will appoint the chair of the panel.

     

  4. Panel Openings.Panel openings due to resignations, withdrawals, etc. shall be filled by alternates based on an order determined at the beginning of each committee year by random lot.

     

  5. Limit on Panel Service.No member or alternate shall serve on more than one Appeals Panel or two total panels at any one time.

     

  6. COF Representatives.The COF will be represented in proceedings by one or more then-current COF member(s) designated by the COF, preferably from members who were serving on the COF at the time of the challenged recommendation.

     

  7. Advisers.Both the Petitioner and the COF Representative, if there is only one such representative, may have an adviser to assist in the proceedings; these advisers may attend and provide advice, but not participate in the proceedings. The Petitioner may select as adviser any full-time or part-time faculty member who is not a COF member, a Grievance Committee member, or a Grievance Committee alternate who is serving on the Mediation or Appeals Panel for that Petitioner's grievance. If there is a single designated COF representative, that person may be assisted by a faculty adviser who is not a Grievance Committee member or a Grievance Committee alternate who is serving on the Mediation or Appeals Panel for that Petitioner’s grievance.

     

  8. Confidentiality.Panel members may not disclose information concerning particular panel proceedings, whether in documents or from discussion, outside of those proceedings at any time. Any panel member found to have breached this duty of confidentiality may be removed as a Grievance Committee member or alternate at the discretion of the Chair of the Faculty.

     

  9. Consequence of Failure to Meet Deadlines.
    a. Failure by Petitioner. A Petitioner who fails to comply with time periods specified in this Article forfeits his or her right for further review unless the Chair of the Faculty determines that the failure was for good reason beyond the Petitioner's control, such as serious illness.
    b. Failure by COF or a Panel. A Petitioner shall notify the Chair of the Faculty within three days of a failure by the COF or its designated representative or by a panel to comply with time frames specified in this Article. The Chair of the Faculty will review the reasons for the failure and, within three days of receiving the notification, establish an appropriately expedited schedule for completion of proceedings. Depending on the reason for the delay, the Chair of the Faculty has discretion to order replacement of one or more panel members or the COF's designated representative to avoid further delay.

K. Grievance Procedure Interpretation. Matters of interpretation of this Faculty Grievance Process will be resolved by the Grievance Committee or its panels.