Policy Number: E23.0
Policy Name: DISMISSAL OF A FACULTY MEMBER FOR CAUSE
Dismissal of faculty (as defined in E6.1a and E6.1b) before the expiration of an appointment may occur for adequate cause. Such cause shall be related directly and substantially to the fitness of an individual's professional capacity as a faculty member. This does not apply to cases of program reduction or financial exigency. Dismissal shall not be used to restrain faculty members 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.
1. Dismissal Charges
Adequate cause shall normally be restricted to:
2. Dismissal Review Committee
a. A Dismissal Review Committee, consisting of five members, shall be drawn by lot from a pool of faculty members, composed of the chairs of the college tenure committees (one from each college).
The committee shall be drawn by lot from the pool by the provost and the chair of the Academic Senate prior to December 1st each year and will serve until November 30th of the following year. Remaining members of the pool shall serve as alternates. Except in exceptional circumstances, committee members will serve until any ongoing case is concluded.
b. Upon notification of a pending dismissal case, members of the committee (and alternates) may disqualify themselves if a conflict of interest or personal bias exists.
c. Each of the parties (the faculty member, a dean, provost, or designee) may peremptorily exclude a member of the committee. Vacancies caused by exclusions or disqualifications will be filled by random draw from the remaining alternates.
d. In the event that the pool is not sufficient to replace disqualifications and exclusions, the executive committee of the Academic Senate and the provost will select replacements from existing college tenure committees.
e. The members of the committee conducting a hearing shall choose a chair from among themselves.
3. Dismissal Charges and Hearings
a. Charges may be brought by the appropriate college dean or the provost and must be presented in writing to the accused faculty member before a dismissal hearing may proceed.
b. In extraordinary circumstances faculty members may be suspended by the dean from part or all their duties. The suspended faculty member will continue to be paid until the procedures described herein are completed.
c. The Dismissal Review Committee shall hear charges, make inquiries, conduct hearings, hold consultations, and make recommendations to the president.
d. Service of notice of hearing and specific charges (made in 3.a) shall occur at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The faculty member may waive a hearing, or may respond to the charges, or assert that the charges do not support a finding of adequate cause.
e. The faculty member may request a closed or open hearing. The committee shall abide by the faculty member's request, unless the university can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances compel otherwise. The committee may close the hearing to debate a question of order.
f. If the committee determines that the faculty member cannot be present at the hearing for legitimate reasons, it shall set an alternate date for the hearing (not to exceed one year) which is acceptable to both parties.
g. A faculty member may waive the right to be present at a hearing and appoint a representative who meets the conditions of 3.h, if the faculty member's reason for nonappearance is acceptable to the committee.
h. During the proceedings each party may have counsel present to speak on their behalf, provided that such counsel is a member of the RIT community and is not an attorney admitted to practice before any court.
i. The chair of the committee will arrange for the recording of an audio tape of the hearing, which will be the official record of the proceedings. The audio tape will be supplemented by a single fixed camera video tape if one is requested by either party. Copies of the tape(s) will be made available without cost to either party. If either party chooses to have a complete or partial written transcript prepared from the audio tape a copy will be provided without cost to both parties.
j. The university will provide a sign language interpreter, with comprehensive skills certification, if requested by a faculty member or other participant who is hearing impaired. If a video tape has been requested the interpreter will appear on the video tape.
k. The parties and the committee shall be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence. Both parties shall cooperate in securing witnesses and making available documentary or other evidence requested by the committee or either party. The faculty member and the party representing the university shall provide to the committee and each other, at least five days prior to the scheduled hearing date, written statements identifying all witnesses and any other evidence which they may use at the hearing. These statements shall include copies of written testimony or documentary evidence. The committee may permit, in the interest of fairness, the introduction of evidence not listed in the statements.
l. The committee may grant adjournments to enable either party to investigate information further. The committee shall not deny reasonable requests to adjourn.
m. Each party shall have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. The committee may also question witnesses. Where witnesses cannot or will not appear, but the committee determines that the interests of fairness require admission of their information, the committee shall introduce such information on the record. Such information will identify the witnesses and disclose the information obtained from them. The committee will attempt to have witnesses appear at the hearing or provide other opportunities to question absent witnesses.
n. The committee shall not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence, but may admit evidence that is of probative value in determining the issues involved.
o. The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the university and shall be satisfied by a fair preponderance of the evidence in the record considered as a whole.
p. The committee's recommendation shall be based solely on the hearing record. The committee will decide all questions by majority vote, except for a recommendation to dismiss, which must be supported by at least four votes.
q. The parties may terminate the hearings at any time if they can agree to a resolution of the charge. Notice of such an agreement will be signed by both parties and presented to the committee.
r. The committee shall send copies of its recommendation with a minority report, if any, to the faculty member, the provost, and to the president who will make the final determination.
s. The committee shall conclude whether or not adequate cause for dismissal has been established in matters directly and substantially related to the fitness of the individual's professional capacity as a faculty member based on the record and it shall so report. The committee may also recommend the imposition of less severe sanctions. The president retains the right to reject the report of the committee, to dismiss the faculty member for adequate cause, or to impose a lesser penalty if concluding that the conduct of the faculty member, although not constituting adequate cause for dismissal, is sufficiently grave to justify the imposition of a less severe sanction such as censure or suspension from service for a stated period of time. If the president decides to reject the report or impose a lesser sanction, the reasons for doing so shall be transmitted in writing to the committee and the faculty member.
t. Upon receiving written notice of dismissal or lesser sanctions, if the terminated or sanctioned faculty member alleges that the policies and procedures set forth above (2, a-e and 3, a-s) have not been properly applied, a review of the alleged procedural violations may be requested by initiating the appropriate grievance procedure within ten days. The grievance committee's jurisdiction shall be limited solely to the issue of whether procedural due process has been complied with and it shall have no authority to inquire into or rule upon the merits or the substance of the issue of whether adequate cause for dismissal or discipline exists.
4. Permanent Record of the Proceedings
a. In the event that the final decision is to dismiss or sanction the faculty member, the university may retain all records of the hearing and the report(s) of the committee to the president.
b. If the president determines that dismissal or a sanction is not warranted, then the university must return to the committee chair all tapes and any written transcript of the hearing. The committee chair will seal these and the committee's copies, and will destroy them one year from the date of the committee's recommendation. Any reference to the dismissal charges and hearings will be removed from the faculty member's personnel record. The university may retain the written recommendations of the committee and the president's decision.
Effective Date: Approved May 20, 2010
Edited December 2007
Edited September 2010