Section 13: Faculty Appeals Procedure

Regarding matters of salary, promotion, tenure, renewal or non-renewal of appointment, termination, and any other matters bearing on faculty performance and professional concerns, including alleged infringement upon academic freedom, faculty members shall have the right to a review of their grievance according to the procedure described below. This procedure is that of Centenary College and the Appeals Committee and shall in no respect be bound by formal or informal rulings or policies issued by any outside source. However, general adherence to AAUP guidelines and to accepted standards of due process is expected. (Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, 1995 edition, pp. 21-30). (2/2007) (5/2007)

The purpose of this procedure is to provide a means whereby an aggrieved faculty member may obtain a review before a well informed, disinterested body of peers elected by the faculty for that purpose. The Appeals Committee, in order to be well informed, will have access to all relevant information under control of the officers of the College. The function of the appeals procedure is to determine whether a grievance is well founded and to make recommendations regarding the resolution of disputes.

The tenured members of the faculty shall serve as standing members of the Appeals Committee. Whenever a grievance is filed, committee members will be asked to take on added responsibility. Annually, the tenured faculty of the College will elect by majority vote a faculty member to serve as chair of the Appeals Committee. The chair of the Appeals Committee may serve for up to a period of three successive years. Faculty Personnel Council members will not be eligible to serve as chair of the Appeals Committee until their term of service on Faculty Personnel Council has ended. (12/2003)

I. Any grievance shall be brought first to the Provost (as Chief Academic Officer of the College) or chair of the committee responsible for personnel matters, who will seek to resolve the dispute informally by consultation with the faculty member, the faculty member's department chair, and others whose knowledge or experience may be of help in achieving a mutually satisfactory settlement of the dispute. The Provost or the chair of the committee responsible for personnel matters will report the substance of this informal consultation to the faculty member in writing.

II. In the case of failure of other efforts to resolve the dispute, the faculty member may request the participation of the Appeals Committee by submitting a written statement of the grievance to the chair of the committee with a copy to the Provost. Upon receipt of the statement of grievance, the chair of the Appeals Committee will convene a meeting of the committee for the purpose of constituting a panel (the "panel") to consider the case. Before this meeting, the chair will consult with the parties to the dispute to determine whether they believe that any members of the committee ought to be excluded from the panel for reason of bias or a conflict of interest. Those faculty members considered to have a conflict of interest or bias in the case will be excluded from panel service. Parties to the dispute will also be excluded from panel service. In total, no more than one-third of the tenured members of the faculty may be excluded from panel service. If the grievance involves the committee chair, the chair will be excused from the committee and an ad hoc chair will be elected. If the need arises to elect an ad hoc chair, that chair will be elected by the tenured members of the faculty. Each academic division must be represented on the final panel. At the first meeting of the committee, (all tenured members of the faculty) six of its members will be selected, along with the committee chair, to consider the case. If requested by the chair of the Appeals Committee, the chair of the Faculty Coordinating Council may assist in the selection process. From the list of seven, the aggrieved faculty member shall strike two names to form the special grievance panel of five members. Unless excluded by conflict of interest, bias, or by the aggrieved party, the committee chair will serve as the panel chair. If the grievance includes a claim of sex discrimination, at least two members of the panel shall be of the same sex as the aggrieved faculty member. To fulfill this condition, the committee shall appoint a tenured member of the faculty as a replacement to the panel on an ad hoc basis.

III. The panel will conduct a preliminary investigation solely in order to determine whether the evidence warrants further review. At the request of the panel, the administration and/or faculty members will make available to it all relevant evidence in their possession pertaining to the grievance. The panel may consult with the aggrieved faculty member, the Provost, and such other persons as the panel believes can be of assistance to it. The panel will then meet in order to determine whether there is a prima facie case warranting a hearing or further review. A hearing entails a formal presentation of evidence pertinent to the aggrieved faculty member's case, whereas a review is a consideration of documentary evidence which may include but not require consultation with the aggrieved faculty member and other individuals having information pertaining to the case.

By majority vote, it may dismiss the case on the grounds that no reasonable evidence supports the claim of the aggrieved faculty member. The chair of the panel will notify the parties to the dispute, the Provost, and the chair of the Appeals Committee of its decision in writing. If the panel decides in favor of further investigation, the chair will notify the parties, in writing, of the time and place of further review or of a full hearing when violations concerning academic freedom or discrimination are involved.

IV. The appeals panel is charged with the responsibility of conducting a full, fair, and impartial consideration of the dispute. The purpose of the hearing or review is to make the panel thoroughly informed about the dispute. The conduct of the hearing or review will be consistent with the following provisions:

  1. The panel will hold in strict confidence all information provided by the parties to the dispute and all testimony made during the course of the appeals procedure. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the panel will, when possible, return all documentary evidence to its source.

  2. The faculty member will be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary and other evidence. The administration will cooperate with the panel in securing witnesses and making available documentary and other evidence.1 In disputes involving an action or decision of the college, at least ten days prior to the hearing or review, the panel will allow the aggrieved faculty member, accompanied by an advisor of his or her choice, to examine the evidence. The chair of the appeals panel will arrange for the examination of this evidence. The aggrieved faculty member will have the right to revise his or her written statement of grievance.

  3. In the case of a full hearing, the panel, the Provost, and all parties directly involved in the dispute will have the right to call and present witnesses and to demand and supply documentary evidence. Neither the panel nor the parties to the dispute will be bound by legal rules of evidence but will have the right to present witnesses and confront and question all witnesses. Where the witnesses cannot or will not appear, but the panel determines that the interests of justice require admission of their statements, the panel will identify the witnesses, disclose their statements, and, if possible, provide for interrogatories.2 The panel will grant adjournments to enable either party to investigate evidence as to which a valid claim of surprise is made.3

  4. If a full hearing is necessary, it will be closed to the public. The Provost, together with the parties directly involved in the dispute, as determined by the panel and the aggrieved faculty member, is entitled to attend the hearing. During the proceedings the faculty member will be permitted to have an academic advisor and counsel of the faculty memberís choice. 4 The college also will be permitted to have legal counsel. If any party to the dispute desires legal counsel, the other party or parties must be given at least one week's notice of the intention to utilize legal counsel. At the request of any party to the dispute, a representative of the AAUP may attend the hearing as an observer.

  5. A verbatim record of the hearing or hearings will be taken and a typewritten copy will be made available to the faculty member without cost, at the faculty memberís request. 5

  6. The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the institution and will be satisfied only by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole. 6 The findings of fact and the decision will be based solely on the hearing record. 7

  7. All actions of the panel will be taken by a majority vote of the five members constituting the panel in a particular case.

  8. Except for such simple announcements as may be required, covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, public statements and publicity about the case by either the faculty member or administrative officers will be avoided so far as possible until the proceedings have been completed, including consideration by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. 8

V. After the conclusion of the hearing or review, the five members of the panel will meet in a closed session to review all information presented and make a determination of the case. In cases in which no three members can concur, the panel will simply state that it could make no determination. The panel will make a written statement of its determinations and its recommendations. Copies of this document will be transmitted to all parties directly involved in the dispute.

This document will include a determination of the merits of the aggrieved faculty member's claims and such recommendations as may lead to the resolution of the dispute subject to the following restrictions:

In cases of possible inadequate consideration resulting in the termination of a faculty member's appointment or the decision not to reappoint a faculty member, the panel will not conduct an evaluation of the faculty member. The panel will be limited to determining a) whether the administration complied with the applicable policies and procedures of the college in a non-arbitrary and a non-capricious manner, b) whether the evidence on which the decision rested (e.g., dossiers, reports, letters) was properly constituted, and c) whether there appears to be a violation of academic freedom or discrimination. In these hearings, a faculty determination that a program or department is to be discontinued will be considered presumptively valid, but the burden of proof on other issues will rest on the administration. 9 In such cases, the panel's recommendations will be limited to advising the President whether the decision to terminate or not reappoint should be reconsidered. The reconsideration will be made by the members of the body that made the original decision.

After the final report is delivered to the President, if the President rejects the report, the President will state the reasons for doing so, in writing, to the panel and to the faculty member, and provide an opportunity for response before transmitting the case to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. If dismissal or severe sanction is recommended, the President will, on request of the faculty member, transmit to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees the record of the case. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trusteesí review will be based on the record of the panelís hearing, and it will provide opportunity for argument, oral or written or both, by the principals at the hearings or by their representatives. The decision of the panel will either be sustained or the proceeding returned to the panel with specific objections. The panel will then reconsider, taking into account the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees will make a final decision only after study of the panelís reconsideration. 10

VI. The following timetables shall be observed in the appeals procedure:

  1. A request for informal consultation shall be made by the aggrieved faculty member within two weeks of the occasion of the dispute.

  2. In cases of failure of informal consultation and/or mediation, the aggrieved faculty member shall request a review by the Appeals Committee within two weeks of initiating the informal consultation.

  3. The panel shall complete its preliminary investigation and give notice of its determination to the parties involved within three weeks after the receipt of the request for a review (if the request for review occurred during a fall or spring semester) or within the first three weeks of the following semester (if the request for review occurred outside a fall or spring semester).

  4. If the panel proceeds to further review or a full hearing, the review or hearing shall be held within thirty days after notification of the decision to hold a review or hearing. However, service of notice of the hearing with specific charges in writing must be given at least twenty days prior to the hearing. 11

  5. The panel shall render its written determination within ten days of the conclusion of the formal hearing or review.

  6. The President shall respond to the final report of the panel within ten days of the receipt of the panelís report.

  7. If either the panel or the faculty member elects to respond to the Presidentís report, such response shall be submitted to the President within ten days of the receipt of the Presidentís report. In cases in which dismissal or severe sanction is recommended, any request by the faculty member that the case be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees also must be submitted within ten days of receipt of the Presidentís report.

  8. The President shall transmit the response (as indicated above in Section 13 VI f), the response of the panel and/or the faculty member, and the record to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees within seven days of the receipt of the panelís response or the request by the faculty member.

  9. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees shall complete its review within twenty-one days of the receipt of the materials from the President.

  10. If the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees returns the proceeding to the panel, the panel shall complete its reconsideration within seven days of receipt of the return of the proceeding by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.

  11. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees shall make a final decision within seven days of receipt of the result of the reconsideration by the panel.

  12. The chair of the Appeals Committee, with the agreement of the parties directly involved, may suspend the time limitations listed above in item d.

Notes

1 AAUP "Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure", 5.c.(10)

2 Ibid, 5.c.(11)

3 Ibid, 5.c.(9)

4 Ibid, 5.c.(5)

5 Ibid, 5.c.(7)

6 Ibid, 5.c.(8)

7 Ibid, 5.c.(14)

8 Ibid, 5.c.(15)

9 Ibid, 4.d.(3)

10 Ibid, 5.c.(16) and 6

11 Ibid, 5.c.(3)

Appeals section updated May 2004, March 2010, May 2010.

Last updated May 12, 2010.

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