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E23.0 Dismissal of a Tenure-Track Faculty Member for Cause

 

Scope: Tenure-Track Faculty, both tenured and pre-tenured. This policy and the procedures set forth herein apply to tenure-track faculty classified as regular employees of the university as defined in Policy E1.0 Employee Classification and Status.  Procedures for non-tenure-track faculty classified as regular employees are addressed in E23.1.

  1. Rationale

    All members of the RIT community agree to uphold the C0.0 Compliance Policy and Code of Ethical Conduct and all other policies of the university that are related to their positions and roles at the university. It is understood that there are performance problems that are ordinarily correctable and for which the faculty member has been given written documentation and warnings. In these situations, solutions will be attempted to correct the problem. When a solution cannot be reached or if there is a performance problem for which immediate action must occur as determined by the provost, a faculty member may be dismissed according to this policy. This policy may be invoked when the provost has determined adequate cause for dismissal as defined below may exist (see Section III).

    This policy shall not be used to restrain tenure-track faculty members as defined in Section II in the exercise of academic freedom, in the right to criticize university policies and practices, in the exercise of free speech as a citizen, or in private life. Adequate cause shall be related to the fitness of an individual's professional capacity as a faculty member as described in policies E4.0 – Faculty Employment Policies, E5.0 Policy on Tenure, and E6.0 Policy on Rank and Promotion.

    In addition to E 23.0, a tenure-track faculty member can also be dismissed in cases of program discontinuance, reduction, or transfer as outlined in E20.0 – Policy on the Discontinuance, Reduction or Transfer of Academic Programs, or financial exigency as described in E22.0 – Policy on Financial Exigency. Furthermore, non-renewal of a pre-tenured, tenure-track faculty member can occur based on the conditions outlined in the annual appointment letter (see E4.0 – Faculty Employment Policies).

  2. Definitions

    Administration Representative is an individual from within the RIT community who does not hold a law degree and who presents the case on behalf of the provost.

    Annual Appointment Letter is the letter that specifies terms and conditions of the faculty member’s employment on an annual basis.

    Business day is Monday through Friday and does not include official RIT holidays. This includes the fall and spring academic terms, intersession, and summer session(s).

    Certified Communication is communication between the parties sent by certified mail via the US Postal Service.  Such Communication shall be mailed to the faculty member’s mailing address on record. 

    Faculty Representative is an individual from within the RIT community who does not hold a law degree and who presents the case on behalf of the faculty member being considered for dismissal. The decision to use a faculty representative is optional and must be made at the outset and maintained throughout the process.

    Formal Communication is communication and information sent between parties, e.g., notices, responses.  Such formal communications shall be delivered through university e-mail unless otherwise requested by the faculty member.  In this policy, Formally Communicated means Formal Communication.

    Majority vote is three out of five votes.

    Offer Letter is defined as the document that specifies the faculty member’s initial terms and conditions of employment.

    Tenure-track is defined as those faculty members who are already tenured and those faculty members who are pre-tenured having been hired in a tenure-track line but have not yet earned tenure.

    “The faculty member” as defined in this policy refers to the individual faculty member who is under consideration for dismissal with cause.

  3. Dismissal Charges for Adequate Cause

    A tenure-track faculty member shall only be dismissed under this policy for adequate cause.  Adequate cause shall be defined as any of the following:

    ·         Documented and persistent incompetence in teaching, research, service, or administration;

    ·         Documented dishonesty related to teaching, research, service, or administration;

    ·         Documented  and persistent neglect of duty for which the faculty member is employed;

    ·         Willful failure to perform responsibilities for which the faculty member is employed;

    ·         Personal conduct that substantially impairs the individual's fulfillment of institutional responsibilities;

    ·         Violation of university policy substantially related to performance of faculty responsibilities;

    Falsification of information on employment application or other submitted information concerning qualifications for a position.

  4. Dismissal Review Committee
    1. A Dismissal Review Committee, hereafter referred to as the Committee, consisting of five members, shall be drawn by lot by the provost and the chair of the Academic Senate from a pool made up of the chairs of the current college tenure committees prior to February 1 each year and shall serve until January 31 of the following year. Remaining members of the pool shall serve as alternates. Except in exceptional circumstances, Committee members shall serve until any ongoing case is concluded.

      In the case of more than one tenure committee in a college, all names of the college’s tenure committee chairs shall be placed in the pool; the first name drawn from the pool from that college shall be placed on the Committee and any remaining names from that college shall be excluded from the pool.

      If a college does not form a tenure committee in a given year, the name of the chair from the college’s most recent tenure committee shall be included in the pool.

    2. Upon notification of a pending dismissal case, members of the Committee (and alternates or replacements) should disqualify themselves if a conflict of interest or personal bias exists.

    3. Each of the parties (the faculty member or his or her representative, and the provost or his or her administration representative) may exclude a member of the Committee with or without cause. The executive committee of the Academic Senate and the provost shall select by lot replacements to fill vacancies on the Committee caused by exclusions or disqualifications.

    4. In the event that the pool is not sufficient to replace disqualifications and exclusions, the executive committee of the Academic Senate and the provost shall select a replacement by lot for each person disqualified or excluded from that person’s college tenure committee members.

    5. The members of the Committee conducting a hearing shall choose a chair from among themselves.

    6. The Committee has the responsibility to hear charges, make inquiries, conduct hearings, hold consultations, and make recommendations to the president.

  5. Dismissal Charges and Hearings
    1. Charges shall be brought by the provost and shall be communicated to the faculty member by Certified Communication (see Section V.B).
       
    2. The Provost’s Office shall send the faculty member a Certified Communication, with notification of the certified mailing through Formal Communication, which includes the specific charges which have led to the initiation of the process for dismissal (see Section V.A) and notice of the intent to schedule a hearing. On the same day, the Provost’s Office shall notify the faculty member’s dean by Formal Communication that a dismissal for cause process has commenced.  The dean may notify others if necessary. The Certified Communication shall also include a general timeline for the hearing process (see Section V.E). The delivery of this notice starts the dismissal for cause process calendar. The faculty member shall Formally Communicate to the provost within ten (10) business days of the delivery of this notice. In this Formal Communication, the faculty member shall select and indicate one of the following three options in his or her response:
      1. The faculty member intends to attend a hearing with or without a faculty representative as defined in Section II of this policy.
         
      2. The faculty member waives the right to be present at the hearing and names a representative as defined in Section II of this policy to attend the hearing for the faculty member.
         
      3. The faculty member waives his or her attendance and representation at the hearing.

         

The faculty member’s response may also include:

·         A written response addressing the charges in the provost’s correspondence.

·         A request for the hearing to be open to the RIT community (see Section V.F.).

The faculty member’s failure to respond to the Certified Communication or a failure to select one of the above options by the established deadline shall serve as a waiver to attendance and representation at the hearing.  In such cases, the hearing and process will continue without the faculty member or his or her representative.

  1. The Committee chair will send Formal Communication of the hearing date and time to the Committee members, the provost, the faculty member’s dean, and the faculty member and his or her representative if one has been named. Either the provost or the faculty member may request in writing a postponement of the hearing. The decision regarding postponement is determined by a majority vote of the Committee and shall be Formally Communicated to all parties.
     
  2. The faculty member may be suspended by the provost from part or all of his or her duties during the dismissal process. The suspended faculty member will continue to be paid until the processes described herein are completed. The provost shall notify the faculty member’s dean and the department head in this event. 
     
  3. The general timeline for hearings is outlined below and illustrated in Figure 1 in section V.E.6. This timeline may be modified per the paragraph above or by Section V.I.
     
    1. Day 1 – the delivery of the Certified Communication, with notification of the certified mailing through Formal Communication, which includes the specific charges which have led to the initiation of the process for dismissal (see Section V.A.) and notice of the intent to schedule a hearing.
       
    2. By Day 10 – The faculty member shall Formally Communicate to the provost within ten (10) business days of the delivery of this notice (see Section V.B).
       
    3. By Day 20, the hearing start date shall be announced.  The chair of the Committee shall Formally Communicate the date of the hearing to the provost, the faculty member, the faculty member’s dean, and the members of the Committee.
       
    4. The hearing shall start no earlier than fifty (50) business days and no later than sixty (60) business days from the delivery of the Certified Communication noted in Section V.E.1.  The following actions must take place prior to the start of the hearing:
      1. The provost and the faculty member shall provide to the Committee and each other at least ten (10) business days prior to the scheduled hearing date the following:  a list of witnesses, any written testimony, or documentary evidence. Interpreting services, if needed, shall also be requested at this time.
         
      2. Either the provost or the faculty member may request a video recording no less than five (5) business days prior to the hearing. This request must be made in writing to the chair of the Committee.  Video recording requests made with less than five (5) business days’ notice may be denied at the discretion of the Committee.
         
    5. After the hearing concludes:
      1. The Committee’s report shall be submitted to the president within fifteen (15) business days of the conclusion of the hearing.
         
      2. The president’s decision along with the reasons for the decision shall be communicated in writing to the provost and to the faculty member.  The faculty member’s communication shall be sent by Certified Communication with notification of the certified mail by Formal Communication within thirty-five (35) business days of the conclusion of the hearing.  A summary of the president’s decision will be Formally Communicated to the Committee and the faculty member’s dean within thirty-five (35) business days of the conclusion of the hearing (see Section V.T).
         
      3. If the dismissed faculty member files a grievance, it must be Formally Communicated to the chair of the Grievance Committee within fifteen (15) business days after the day on which the president’s decision was delivered.  The Grievance Committee's jurisdiction shall be governed by E24.0 – Faculty Grievance Procedure  (see Section V.U)
    6. Figure 1:

      (Click to Enlarge)


       
  4. The hearing will be closed unless the faculty member requests an open hearing in his or her response to the provost (see Section V.B). The Committee shall abide by the faculty member's request, unless the university can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances compel otherwise. Sufficient demonstration of exceptional circumstances referred to above shall be decided by a majority vote of the Committee.  The decision of the Committee shall be final.  If an open hearing is conducted, the Committee may close the hearing at any time to debate a question of order or to hear witness testimony in private.

    If the hearing is open, it shall be open to members of the RIT community up to the capacity of the room in which the hearing will be held.  No listening or recording devices shall be allowed.  All bags shall be checked.

     
  5. Every witness has the right to request and be granted his or her request for the hearing to be closed during his or her testimony.
     
  6. The provost and the faculty member may terminate the hearings at any time if they agree to a resolution of the charge. Notice of such a resolution shall be signed by both parties and the provost will notify the Committee and the dean of the resolution. Details of the resolution shall not be included in the notice to the Committee and the dean.
     
  7. If the faculty member is unable to be present during the originally scheduled hearing, he or she may request an alternate hearing date and provide the Committee with the reason for his or her unavailability. If the Committee determines by majority vote that an alternate hearing date should be granted, an alternate date for the hearing will be set not to exceed twenty (20) business days from the originally scheduled hearing date. If no mutually agreed upon date can be determined, the hearing will continue as scheduled.  In this situation, the faculty member may send a representative as defined in Section II in his or her stead.
     
  8. The provost and the faculty member may have  a representative as defined in Section II present to speak on his or her behalf during the proceedings.
     
  9. The chair of the Committee shall arrange for an audio recording of the hearing, which will be the official record of the proceedings. Either the provost or the faculty member may request a video recording in writing to the chair of the Committee no less than five (5) business days prior to the hearing (see Section V.E.4.b). Any participant in the hearing who chooses to not be video recorded will be audio recorded only.  All recordings of the hearing are university business records and the property of the university.  A copy of the recording (s) will be provided to the faculty member without charge upon written request to the chair of the Committee. There shall be no other recording devices allowed.
     
  10. The university shall provide a sign language interpreter, with comprehensive skills certification, if requested by the faculty member or other participant in the hearing (see Section V.E.4.a). If a video recording has been requested, the interpreter shall appear on the video recording.
     
  11. The provost, the faculty member, and the Committee shall be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses, documents, or other evidence. The provost and the faculty member shall cooperate in securing witnesses and making available documents or other evidence requested by the Committee or either party (see Section E.V.4.a). In the interest of fairness, during the course of the hearing the Committee may permit the introduction of evidence not submitted at this time.
     
  12. The Committee may grant short adjournments to enable either party to investigate new information.
     
  13. The provost, faculty member, and the Committee shall have the right to question all witnesses present at the hearing. If the Committee determines that further information is needed from persons who have submitted written statements but who are not present at the hearing, the Committee has the right to question those persons.  The Committee also has the right to question persons identified through the hearing process who may have relevant information but who have not previously submitted a written statement.
     
  14. The Committee shall not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence. The Committee may admit any evidence that they determine is germane to the issues involved.
     
  15. The burden of proof that adequate cause for dismissal exists as defined in this policy rests with the university and shall be satisfied by evidence submitted at the hearing. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the Committee shall deliberate and discuss the evidence and shall vote on whether or not adequate cause for dismissal has been established. A minimum of 4 out of 5 votes is required to support a recommendation for dismissal.
     
  16. The Committee shall prepare a written recommendation for or against dismissal based solely on the hearing record. The written recommendation shall include a rationale and report of the vote of the Committee.
     
  17. The Committee shall send a copy of its recommendation and a report of the vote (with a dissenting report, if any) signed by all Committee members to the faculty member, the provost, the faculty member’s dean, and the president.  The Committee’s recommendation shall be sent within a maximum of fifteen (15) business days of the conclusion of the hearing (see Section V.E.5.a).
     
  18. The president shall make the final decision in all dismissal for cause cases. After reviewing the committee’s report, the president decides to retain, dismiss, or impose a sanction such as, but not limited to, censure or suspension.  The president’s decision and the reasons for the decision shall be communicated by Certified Communication to the faculty member and formally communicated to the Committee, provost and dean within twenty (20) business days after the day on which the Committee’s recommendation was submitted to the president (see Section V.E).  If the faculty member is dismissed, termination will become effective on the date specified in the president’s Certified Communication.
     
  19. Upon delivery of Certified Communication of the final decision of the president, if the faculty member alleges that the policies and procedures set forth above have not been properly followed, the faculty member may request a review of the alleged procedural violations by filing a grievance (see E24.0 – Faculty Grievance Procedure).  In these cases, the informal grievance process is waived and the grievance process begins at the Preliminary Inquiry stage.  The required documentation for this type of grievance must include the alleged procedural violation(s) and any supporting documentation for the procedural violation(s).
     
  20. As stated in the Faculty Grievance Procedure (E24.0), the Faculty Grievance Committee will determine whether this policy has been violated, misapplied or misinterpreted with respect to the aggrieved who has filed the grievance (see Section E.5.c).  The Faculty Grievance Committee will not substitute its substantive judgment on such matters for those of the regularly constituted authorities or committees.  The Faculty Grievance Committee is authorized to make recommendations to the president it believes are necessary to assure resolution of the grievance.
     
  21. During the grievance process, the dismissed faculty member is not considered an employee of the university and shall not be paid during the grievance process.  If the dismissed faculty member is reinstated, he or she will receive compensation from the date of dismissal.
     
  22. If the outcome of the grievance process upholds the dismissed faculty member’s grievance, a subsequent process for dismissal for cause shall be initiated by the tenth (10) business day after the delivery of  the Certified Communication of the decision by the Grievance Committee. In the subsequent dismissal for cause process, the Committee members remain the same and all time frames are reduced by one half (half days shall be rounded to the next even day).
     
  1. Permanent Record of the Proceedings
    1. In the event that the final decision is to dismiss the faculty member or impose a lesser sanction,  the Committee chair will seal and file all records of the hearing and the report(s) of the Committee and the president in the Department of Human Resources and in compliance with C22.0 - Records Management Policy.
       
    2. TIf the president determines that dismissal or lesser sanction is not warranted, then the university must return to the Committee chair all recordings and any written transcript of the hearing. The Committee chair will seal these and the Committee's copies. These records shall be managed in accordance with C22.0 – Records Management Policy.  All references to the dismissal charges and hearings shall be removed from the faculty member's personnel record

 

Responsible Office:  The Office of the Provost and the Academic Senate.  Inquires may be directed to:

Academic Senate
asenate@rit.edu

Office of the Provost
academicaffairs@rit.edu

Effective Date: January 8, 1986

Policy History:
Edited December 2007
Edited September 2010
Revised December 4, 2014
Revised 

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