3.0 Employment Policies and Procedures for Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty
3.1 Standard Faculty Ranks
3.1.1 Assistant Professor
An assistant professor may be assigned responsibility for teaching graduate courses, supervising master’s theses and dissertations, and serve on graduate student committees. The terminal degree appropriate to the field is expected for appointment to this rank. (Further information regarding appropriate credentials for teaching faculty is found in chapter two, “Faculty Credentialing Guidelines,” and on the provost’s website.)
3.1.2 Associate Professor
In addition to the requirements for assistant professor, a person appointed as associate professor must have demonstrated substantial professional achievements by evidence of an appropriate combination of outstanding teaching, creative scholarship, and recognized performance in Extension, outreach, University Libraries, or related academic and professional service.
In addition to the requirements for associate professor, appointment to the rank of professor is contingent upon national or international recognition as an outstanding scholar and educator.
3.2 Honored Faculty Appointments
3.2.1 Endowed Chairs, Professorships, and Fellowships
Each college has formal procedures for the nomination and appointment to endowed chairs, professorships, and fellowships, which include review by a college honorifics committee or promotion and tenure committee. After review by the appropriate college committee, recommendations are then made by the college dean for approval by the provost and the Board of Visitors. Such an appointment may continue through the active career of the professor at the university, unless it is relinquished in favor of some other honored or administrative appointment or unless the appointment has specific term limitations that may be renewable. The university Faculty Honorifics Committee reviews extra-collegiate nominations to endowed chairs, professorships, and fellowships.
Endowed chairs, professorships, and fellowships are established by a donor who provides an endowment to support the salary and/or operating funds of the professor. Funding levels determine whether the endowed position is a chair, professorship, or fellowship, or junior fellowship. For further information regarding the establishment of an endowment, see the Virginia Tech Foundation website.
184.108.40.206 Eminent Scholar Program
The state General Assembly may appropriate funds each year for the purpose of attracting eminent scholars to Virginia’s colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education can request funds from this appropriation item if gifts from private donors have been specifically designated for purposes of the Eminent Scholars Program. The earnings from these endowments are intended to match state funds appropriated for this purpose. However, state appropriations may not be sufficient in some years to fully match the available private support.
3.2.2 Alumni Distinguished Professor
General Conditions and Definitions: The Alumni Distinguished Professorship (ADP) recognizes extraordinary academic citizenship and distinguished service within the Virginia Tech community. In recognition of the importance of alumni to the university, the Alumni Distinguished Professorship is a pre-eminent faculty appointment, reserved by the Board of Visitors for recognition of faculty members who, over time, have made outstanding contributions to the instructional program of the university and, in so doing, have touched the lives of generations of Virginia Tech alumni.
The Board of Visitors confers upon an individual an appointment as Alumni Distinguished Professor for a period of 10 years; the appointment may be renewed. Currently, 10 Alumni Distinguished Professors may be appointed. There is no quota by college or department.
Eligibility and Criteria for Selection: Since the hallmark of the Alumni Distinguished Professorship is distinguished contribution—over time—to Virginia Tech, newly arrived faculty are not eligible for nomination. And while there is no specified minimum number of years of service required for eligibility, the selection committee places strong emphasis on the magnitude and character of the candidate’s impact on academic programs at Virginia Tech. Nominees should also have established outstanding personal records of accomplishment in creative scholarship.
Nomination and Selection Procedures: Each academic year the provost determines if there will be one or more appointments to the Alumni Distinguished Professor group and, if appropriate, issues a call to the academic deans for nominations. The deans, in turn, invite nominations from academic departments. Screening procedures at departmental and collegiate levels involve appropriate personnel or executive committees in place. Nominations are accompanied by a full dossier of relevant materials including current curriculum vita, letters of nomination from both the departmental and collegiate screening committees, letters of support, and other evidence attesting to the quality of the contributions of the nominee(s).
In developing recommendations, the provost relies primarily on the advice and counsel of the university Commission on Faculty Affairs. The commission, in turn, invites the evaluation of nominees by the incumbent distinguished professors. The provost’s recommendation(s) are sent through the president to the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association for its review and recommendation. The president makes the final recommendation to the Board of Visitors for its approval.
Perquisites and Responsibilities: Each Alumni Distinguished Professor is provided a base salary supplement from the endowment established by the Alumni Association and matched by available funds, if available, from the eminent scholar program. The ADPs receive a salary supplement and operating allocation from the university comparable to that provided for other endowed professorships.
Each Alumni Distinguished Professor is expected to continue in service to the department, the college, and the university at the same high level evident at the time of appointment. But in particular, within whatever latitude the department head or chair and college dean can accommodate, the Alumni Distinguished Professor is encouraged to teach, when invited, in other departments of the university or in collegiate or university courses (e.g., honors colloquia). He or she may also elect, in a given term, to divert energies from the usual classroom responsibilities to other valued activities, such as substantive curriculum revision or textbook preparation.
Alumni Distinguished Professors are also called upon from time to time, individually and also as a group, to render special service or to offer particular advice to the university at large.
Given the high level of performance expected of this select group of faculty members, university and college administrators are cognizant of the particular needs of each individual Alumni Distinguished Professor for appropriate support personnel and sufficient space, within acknowledged fiscal and physical constraints.
3.2.3 University Distinguished Professor
General Conditions and Definitions: The University Distinguished Professorship (UDP) is a pre-eminent faculty rank bestowed by the university’s Board of Visitors upon members of the university faculty whose scholarly attainments have attracted national and/or international recognition. The professorship is bestowed upon no more than one percent of the total full-time faculty at any time.
Nomination and Selection Procedures: Each academic year the provost determines if there will be one or more vacancies in the rank of University Distinguished Professor and, if appropriate, issues a call to the academic deans for nominations. The deans, in turn, invite nominations from academic departments.
Screening procedures at departmental and collegiate levels involve personnel or executive committees in place. Nominations are accompanied by a full dossier of relevant materials including current curriculum vita, letters of nomination from both the department and collegiate screening committees, and letters of support and other evidence attesting to the scholarly reputation of the nominee(s).
In developing recommendations, the provost relies primarily on the advice and counsel of the university Commission on Faculty Affairs. The commission, in turn, invites the evaluation of nominees by the incumbent distinguished professors. The president makes the final judgment at the university level and, if that judgment so determines, takes the recommendation(s) to the Board of Visitors for approval.
Perquisites and Responsibilities: The rank of University Distinguished Professor is conferred by the university and is considered a university appointment (as distinct from a collegiate or departmental appointment). While the successful nominee is nominated by departmental and collegiate colleagues, and while he or she continues to serve in the discipline and department of origin, nonetheless the perquisites and responsibilities of each University Distinguished Professor are fixed by the university.
The president of the university annually adjusts the salary of University Distinguished Professors after consultation with the provost and dean of the relevant college.
The sole responsibility of the University Distinguished Professors is to continue their professional development at the same high level evident at the time of appointment. They are free to define the exact nature of their work after consultation with the dean of the college and the head or chair of the department. They are expected to engage fully with their colleagues in the governance of their departments.
At the same time they are encouraged to teach, when invited, in other departments of the university or in collegiate or university courses (e.g., honors colloquia). They may also elect, in a given term, to devote all of their energies to research, scholarship, or Extension activities. In shaping their plans of work, the University Distinguished Professors take full cognizance of departmental and collegiate needs and expectations. But their principal responsibility is to serve the university well by giving their talents to the development and sharing of their competencies where, in their judgments, they are most effectively employed.
It is the university’s responsibility to provide such support as seems necessary to sustain the high level of performance expected of University Distinguished Professors.
Tenure: Incumbents carry the rank of University Distinguished Professor until resignation or retirement from the university, subject to the usual standard of continuous high performance. The rank is conferred only by the university Board of Visitors and is altered by that body alone, on the recommendation of the president of the university.
3.2.4 Emeritus or Emerita Designation
The title of emeritus or emerita is conferred on retired full professors, associate professors, administrative officers, extra-collegiate faculty with continued appointment, and senior Extension agents who have given exemplary service to the university, and who are specifically recommended by the president to the Board of Visitors for approval. Their names are listed on the appropriate university website(s). University Policy 4405, “Emeritus/Emerita Faculty,” and the provost’s website provides further guidance.
3.3 Procedures for Faculty Appointments with Tenure
An offer of faculty appointment with tenure may be made with the review and approval of the department head or chair, the department promotion and tenure committee, the dean, the provost, and the president. Ultimately, final approval rests with the Board of Visitors.
The dean forwards to the provost and president for their consideration and decision: the candidate’s application package, including cover letter, curriculum vita, and letters of reference; documentation of the department promotion and tenure committee’s approval of rank and tenure, and concurrence of the department head or chair and dean with as much supporting evidence as deemed appropriate; and a brief overview of the search itself—how many candidates applied, were interviewed, and what is the compelling case for the candidate.
In general, faculty recruited from a comparable university should be recommended for a position at Virginia Tech at a similar level with tenure. If the recommended appointment involves a promotion or the initial awarding of tenure, the case must be strongly justified. If an individual is coming from a university with a less extensive research mission, or a university of lesser stature, the case must also be strongly justified.
3.3.1 Part-Time Tenure-Track and Tenured Appointments
While tenure-track and tenured appointments are usually full-time, Virginia Tech recognizes the importance of allowing flexibility in the percent of employment so that faculty members can better manage the balance between their professional work and family or personal obligations over a defined period of time, or perhaps permanently. This policy is intended to encourage departments to accommodate reasonable requests for part-time appointments; however, part-time appointments are not an entitlement, and requests may be turned down when the faculty member and the department cannot agree upon a workable plan.
When conducting a search for a tenure-track appointment, departments continue to advertise for full-time tenure-track or tenured positions and must have funding for a full-time hire. Advertisements include information about university policies for flexible appointments. If desired, the faculty member requests and negotiates a part-time appointment at or after the point of hire if acceptable to the department.
Tenure-track faculty members may request a part-time appointment only for reasons of balancing work and family such as the arrival or care of a child, the care of a family member, or for personal circumstances related to the health of the faculty member. In addition, they may request a term part-time appointment only (with specific starting and ending dates), allowing the issue to be revisited on a defined cycle. While such term appointments can be renewed throughout the probationary period, a permanent part-time appointment may not be granted until tenure is awarded.
Tenured faculty members may request either term or permanent part-time appointments for reasons stated above, or to balance work at Virginia Tech with professional practice or significant community or public service, for example, a professor who wishes to serve as a consultant in addition to an appointment at Virginia Tech; a professor who wishes to engage in entrepreneurial activity outside of university responsibilities; or a professor who runs for public office for a limited term and wishes to reduce the workload at Virginia Tech for that period. Other reasonable justifications may be considered if approved by the department head or chair, dean, and provost.
220.127.116.11 Part-Time Term Tenure-Track and Tenured Appointments
Part-time tenure-track and tenured appointments are either term or permanent. Term part-time appointments are in increments from one semester up to two years. During the duration of a part-time term appointment, terms of the appointment are only changed via the agreement of all parties. A term agreement must specify the date on which the faculty member is expected to return to full-time status. Renewal of a term appointment should be negotiated no less than three months before the end of the current term so that the department can plan accordingly. For term part-time appointments, departments are able to use the salary savings to replace the work of the faculty member on part-time appointment.
Only the faculty member may initiate a request for conversion from full-time to part-time appointment. The reasons for the request for a change in the percentage of appointment should be clearly stated. The department head or chair should make a careful assessment of the needs of the department, and work with the faculty member requesting the part-time appointment to facilitate the request whenever possible. The period for which this part-time appointment is granted shall be clearly stated (renewable terms from one semester up to two years, or permanent).
The written agreement should include a careful and thorough statement of work expectations for the part-time appointment. Generally, faculty members continue to contribute to all areas of responsibility, but with reduced expectations for accomplishment proportional to the fractional appointment. Service responsibilities for faculty members on part-time appointments are generally proportional to their appointments. Faculty members on part-time appointments are not excused from regular departmental, college, or university service because of the part-time appointments.
The written agreement for either an initial appointment or a conversion of a full-time appointment to part-time status and any subsequent renewal requires the approval of the faculty member, department head or chair, dean, and provost.
An initial term part-time appointment, either tenured or tenure-track, may be approved to accommodate a dual career hire if funding is not immediately available to support a full-time position, or if the faculty member seeks a part-time appointment consistent with the intent of this policy. The expectation is that the subsequent reappointment, if recommended, is for a full-time position, unless the faculty member requests a renewal of the term part-time appointment in accordance with these guidelines. A part-time appointment created for a dual career hire is approved through the usual approval processes for dual career hires. (See chapter two, “Dual Career Program.”)
18.104.22.168 Permanent Part-Time Tenure-Track or Tenured Appointments
For permanent part-time tenure-track or tenured appointments with no end date, a return to a full-time appointment is not guaranteed. If tenured, the faculty member remains entitled to the tenured appointment on the part-time basis only. However, an increase in the percent of the appointment up to full-time may be renegotiated between the faculty member and department head or chair if mutually agreeable and funds are available. The department and the college determine the best way to cover the costs of the academic work in the case of conversion to a permanent part-time appointment.
Faculty members on part-time appointments, whether term or permanent, retain all rights and responsibilities attendant to their appointment as a tenure-track or tenured faculty member.
Part-time appointments are made for any fraction 50 percent or greater of a full appointment; faculty members receive proportional salary. Faculty members considering such appointments are strongly encouraged to meet with representatives in the benefits office in Human Resources to gain a clear understanding of the consequences of the change to their benefits. Office and laboratory space may be adjusted for longer term or permanent part-time appointments.
3.4 Promotion and Tenure
The university has a tradition of upholding academic freedom. It endorses the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” of the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges (AAUP Bulletin, September 1970, pp. 323-326).
3.4.1 Tenure Eligibility
Tenure is an institution developed for the protection of the academic freedom of the teaching faculty in institutions of higher education. Eligibility for tenure consideration is limited to faculty members holding regular faculty appointments of 50 percent to 100 percent in academic departments. Tenure is not granted to faculty members with temporary appointments or to administrative and professional faculty. Individuals holding tenure in academic departments who are appointed to administrative positions, however, continue to hold tenure in those departments.
Full-time administrators who also hold appointments in academic departments and engage in teaching and research may be recommended for tenure in such departments.
3.4.2 Pre-tenure Probationary Period and Progress Reviews
The term “probationary period” (“pre-tenure”) is applied to the succession of term appointments that an individual undertakes on a full- or part-time regular faculty appointment, and during which continued evaluation for reappointment and for an eventual tenured appointment takes place. The beginning of the probationary period for faculty members on term appointments is taken as July 1 or August 10 of the calendar year in which their initial full-time appointment begins, depending on whether they are on a calendar year or academic year appointment, regardless of the month in which their services are initiated. (The probationary period for new faculty appointed for spring semester begins the following fall even though the spring contract period officially begins December 25.)
Under usual circumstances, departmental promotion and tenure committees review the professional progress and performance of pre-tenure faculty members twice during the probationary period, usually their second and fourth, or third and fifth, years. The timing of the reviews depends upon the nature of the faculty member’s discipline and must be clearly indicated in written departmental policies. The terms of offer identifies the initial appointment period. Pre-tenure reviews may be delayed if there is an approved extension as described below. Changes or variations in the standard review cycle must be documented in writing.
The initial review for a part-time faculty member should be no later than the third year of service (regardless of percent of employment) to give early feedback on their progress. At least two reviews should be conducted for part-time faculty members during their probationary period; more are recommended. The anticipated schedule for such reviews for reappointment and for the mandatory review for tenure should be documented in writing as part of the agreement for the part-time appointment. Changes should be agreed upon and documented by the faculty member and department.
Reviews are substantive and thorough. At a minimum, departmental promotion and tenure committees must review the faculty member’s relevant annual activity reports, peer evaluations of teaching, and authored materials. It is strongly suggested that promotion and tenure committees and pre-tenure faculty use the promotion and tenure dossier format (available on the provost’s website) in organizing and presenting information for review.
The pre-tenure reviews should analyze the faculty member’s progress toward promotion and tenure and offer guidance regarding future activities and plans. All reviews must be in writing, with the faculty member acknowledging receipt by signing and returning a copy for his or her departmental file. In addition, the promotion and tenure committee and the department head or chair meet with the faculty member to discuss the review and recommendations. Individual faculty members are also encouraged to seek guidance and mentoring from senior colleagues and the department head or chair. Pre-tenure faculty members bear responsibility for understanding departmental expectations for promotion and tenure and for meeting those expectations.
The initial appointment for assistant professors, and for associate professors and professors employed without tenure, is ordinarily for a period of not less than two years. Multiple-year reappointment may be subsequently recommended.
The maximum total period for full-time probationary appointments is six years, unless an approved extension is granted. Decision about tenure, if not made earlier, is made in the sixth year of the probationary appointment. If the tenure decision made in the sixth year is negative, a one-year terminal appointment is offered.
Pre-tenure faculty members may request a term part-time appointment as described in chapter three, “Part-Time Tenure-Track and Tenured Appointments,” for reasons of balancing work and family or personal health issues. In such cases, the probationary period is extended proportionately. For example, two years of service at 50 percent count as one year of full-time service. The term appointment may be renewed. (A permanent part-time appointment may be requested and granted following award of tenure.)
In determining the mandatory tenure review year for those with partial appointments, general equivalency to full-time appointments is expected, so that approximately five years of full-time equivalent service is expected prior to the mandatory tenure review year if no tenure clock extensions are granted; six years if one year of extension is granted, and seven years if two extensions are granted. (In summing partial years of service, a total resulting in a fraction equal to or less than .5 is rounded down, and a fraction greater than .5 is rounded up.) However, review for tenure must occur no later than the tenth year of service, resulting in somewhat less full-time equivalent service (4.5 years) for a faculty member with 50 percent appointment throughout all nine probationary years prior to review. If denied tenure following a mandatory review, a one-year terminal appointment is offered.
Faculty members on part-time appointments may request a tenure clock extension in accordance with chapter three, “Extending the Tenure Clock.” (Extensions are granted in one-year increments, not prorated by the part-time appointment percentage.) However, the extension is not approved if it results in a mandatory review date beyond the tenth year.
Up to three years of appropriate service at other accredited American four-year colleges and universities may be credited toward the six-year probationary period, as specified in chapter three, “Guidelines for the Calculation of Prior Service.”
A faculty member on probationary appointment who wishes to request a leave of absence consults with his or her department head or chair about the effect of the leave on the probationary period, taking into account the professional development that the leave promises. The request for leave should address this matter and the provost’s approval of the leave request specifies whether the leave is to be included in the probationary period.
22.214.171.124 Extending the Tenure Clock
A one-year probationary period extension is automatically granted to either parent (or both, if both parents are tenure-track faculty members) in recognition of the demands of caring for a newborn child or a child under five newly placed for adoption or foster care. The request should be made within a year of the child’s arrival in the family.
An extension of the probationary period may also be approved on a discretionary basis for other extenuating non-professional circumstances that have a significant impact on the faculty member’s productivity, such as a serious personal illness or major illness of a member of the immediate family. In rare cases, extraordinary professional circumstances not of the faculty member’s own making may be acceptable justification for a probationary period extension, for example exceptional delays in providing critical equipment, laboratory renovations, or other elements of the committed start-up package essential to establishing a viable research program.
Faculty members who benefit from this policy are expected to fulfill their usual responsibilities during the probationary period extension unless they are also granted a period of modified duties or unless other arrangements are made. (See chapter three, “Modified Duties.”)
Probationary period extensions are granted in one-year increments. A cumulative total of two years is usually the maximum probationary period extension for any combination of reasons. Requests should be made within a year of the qualifying event or extenuating circumstance. The provost may approve exceptions to these limitations.
Requests for a probationary period extension are submitted in writing to the department head or chair. (A form is available on the provost’s website.) Approval is automatic for new parents. Documentation of medical reasons (other than childbirth or adoption) is required prior to approval; documentation of other extenuating circumstances may also be required. Approvals by the department head or chair, dean, and provost are required for probationary period extensions. The faculty member may appeal denial of the request to the next higher level in their organizational reporting structure.
It is very important that all individuals and committees participating in tenure reviews understand that any individual who receives a probationary period extension must be held to the same standard—not a higher or more stringent one—to which other candidates without such an extension are held. This is also true in the case where the candidate’s dossier is considered on the original schedule for review. However, in this instance where an approved extension was granted but not utilized, the tenure review is not considered mandatory and can be conducted again in the subsequent year without penalty. A probationary extension usually extends the time frame for each subsequent review and reappointment during the probationary period. For example, an extension granted prior to the fourth year review and reappointment typically delays that review by one year.
3.4.3 Guidelines for the Calculation of Prior Service
At the time of a faculty member’s initial appointment, the department head or chair notifies the new faculty member of his or her standing regarding the tenure system. Excepting temporary appointments with limited terms, the faculty appointees are given clear notice of when their appointments will be considered for renewal and when consideration for tenure will be given.
In this latter calculation, appropriate full-time service in another accredited four-year American college or university is credited toward probationary service at Virginia Tech only if the appointed faculty member requests such credit.
In such a request, all prior service is presented if undertaken after the faculty member completes the terminal degree appropriate to the field. A maximum of three years may be credited toward probationary service at Virginia Tech. The request must be made in writing within one year of the initial appointment. The specification of credit for prior service toward the probationary period is subject to the approval of the provost on the recommendation of the department head or chair and dean.
3.4.4 Evaluation Procedures for Promotion and Tenure
Promotion to a higher rank and appointment with tenure may be granted to faculty members on a regular faculty appointment who demonstrate outstanding accomplishments in an appropriate combination of learning, discovery, engagement, and other professional activities. Every faculty member should maintain a current curriculum vita, with copies filed in the department and college (or equivalent academic units, as appropriate). The curriculum vita together with annual faculty activity reports, student evaluations, reprints of publications, reference letters, and other similar documents comprise a dossier that furnishes the principal basis for promotion and tenure decisions.
Faculty members being considered for either promotion or the awarding of tenure have their dossiers reviewed at as many as three levels: by a departmental committee and the head or chair; by a college committee and the dean; and by a university committee and the provost.
Although some participants in the review process may serve at more than one level—for example a departmental committee member may also serve on the college committee—participants may only vote once on a case. A faculty member may not serve on any committee that is evaluating a spouse, family member, or other individual with whom the faculty member has a close personal relationship. (See chapter two, “Potential Conflicts Involving Spouses and Immediate Family Members.”)
Each candidate for tenure and/or promotion to associate professor is evaluated in the light of the triple mission of the university: learning, discovery, and engagement. Although not all candidates are expected to have equal levels of commitment or equal responsibilities in each of these missions, a high level of general competence is expected in recognition of the need for flexibility in the future establishment of priorities in academic programs. Beyond that basic foundation of competence, decisions related to tenure or promotion to associate professor require evidence of excellence in at least one area.
The award of tenure is based on the achievement of distinction in an area of learning and the prediction of eminence throughout the individual’s professional career. The documentation and evaluation should recognize some significant impact of the candidate’s contributions beyond the borders of the university. If the primary strength is in instruction, there should be recognition that the candidate’s pedagogical contributions have influence beyond the immediate classroom; if in research, that there is significant impression on colleagues nationally; if in outreach that the influence of the contributions reaches beyond the immediate clientele.
The criteria by which faculty with part-time appointments are evaluated for tenure is the same as the criteria by which full-time faculty are evaluated. Promotion and tenure committees consider years of full-time equivalent service when reaching decisions, excluding any approved probationary period extensions granted under the extending the tenure clock policy.
Each candidate for the rank of professor must demonstrate a high level of competence in an appropriate combination of instruction, outreach, and professional activities relevant to his or her assignment. Because of the university’s mission and commitment as a major research institution, successful candidates for the rank of professor must demonstrate excellence in research, scholarship, or creative achievement, as appropriate for the candidate’s discipline and assignment. Promotion to the rank of professor is contingent upon national or international recognition as an outstanding scholar and educator.
The university recognizes and encourages appropriate international involvement of its faculty as a mission of the university that cuts across the three traditional missions of learning, discovery, and engagement. Occasionally faculty members are placed on international assignments at full salary away from the university’s domestic locations. Under such circumstances, faculty members should be given the usual consideration for tenure, promotion, and salary advancement.
In cases of tenure recommendation—in addition to evaluation of the candidate’s professional abilities—consideration should be given, at all stages of evaluation and review, to future departmental program directions and concern for maintaining currency and flexibility by preserving opportunities to appoint new faculty members in the various sub-fields of the department.
Levels of expectation vary, of course, with the level of the decision. Where probationary reappointments recognize, in part, perceived potential instead of accomplishment, recommendations for tenure should suggest that the potential is being achieved and should imply few, if any, lingering doubts about the value of the candidate to the department’s program for a “lifetime.” And promotion to professor, which leaves limited opportunity for further university recognition of professional development, should be reserved for those whose achievements are broad and noteworthy.
Besides consideration of specific professional criteria, evaluation for promotion or tenure should consider the candidate’s integrity, professional conduct, and ethics. To the extent that such considerations are significant factors in reaching a negative recommendation, they should be documented as part of the formal review process.
126.96.36.199 Departmental Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure
Each department has one or more committees with appropriate faculty representation to evaluate candidates for promotion and/or tenure and make recommendation to the department head or chair. The department head or chair may chair the committee or may remain separate from the committee’s deliberations and subsequently receive its recommendations. (See guidelines at the end of this section.)
The committee reviews the cases of all faculty members who the head or chair of the committee believes deserve consideration for promotion or tenure, including those faculty members in the sixth year of probationary service. The department head or chair furnishes the committee with a dossier for each candidate.
Guidelines for compiling the dossier are recommended by the University Promotion and Tenure Committee and are available on the provost’s website.
The committee makes a recommendation on each candidate to the department head or chair, including a written evaluation that assesses the quality of the candidate’s performance in each relevant area. The division of the vote is conveyed to the college-level committee and administrator, but must otherwise remain confidential outside the committee. In the absence of a unanimous recommendation, a minority report may be included. Whenever the department head or chair does not concur with the committee’s recommendation, the committee is so notified.
In all cases of mandatory (sixth year) tenure decision, the head or chair passes on to the dean the dossier of every candidate, which includes the committee’s evaluation and recommendation and the head’s or chair’s own recommendation, whether concurring or not. If not concurring, the head or chair includes a letter specifying the reasons. If concurring, the head or chair may submit a letter that combines the committee’s and the head’s or chair’s evaluation and recommendation. Should the committee and the head or chair agree on a negative recommendation, the dean may declare that to be the final decision or may choose to have the recommendation reviewed by the college committee. In all other cases (promotion or tenure before the sixth year of probationary service), the head or chair follows the same procedures except that, when the committee’s recommendation is negative and the head or chair concurs, the head or chair declares a final decision and no further review is carried out. The head or chair informs the faculty member of a negative decision if no further review is scheduled. In that case the faculty member is notified in writing of appeal options.
In sending dossiers to the college level, the head or chair may hold back supplementary materials not deemed central to the review but indicates their nature and their availability. Accompanying the set of dossiers is a statement from the head or chair describing the formation and procedures of the departmental committee and summarizing the number of candidates considered in each category (mandatory tenure, pre-sixth-year tenure, promotion at each rank).
On recommendation of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, University Council approved guidelines for the careful consideration by colleges and departments in the composition and method of selection of departmental promotion and tenure committees. They are presented as guidelines in the recognition that some flexibility is necessary to accommodate the diversity in size, structure, and composition of departments and in the desire to preserve some degree of department and college autonomy in such matters.
Composition and size: Individual departments must develop and publish written policies to guide their promotion and tenure review processes, including the rules governing eligibility and selection of committee members. Individual departments determine who is eligible to serve on committees from among tenured faculty members. A balance between adequate representation and effectiveness of operation as a committee suggests that a size between four to seven members is most appropriate.
Method of selection: Some significant elements of faculty choice must be a part of the selection procedure. Some possibilities are: a combination of elected and appointed representatives; an elected slate significantly larger than the committee size, allowing the department head or chair to appoint the committee from the slate; or a committee elected by the faculty.
Role of the department head or chair: Given their responsibility to make a separate and independent recommendation on each case, department heads or chairs may not vote as members of committees. Department heads or chairs may convene committees and may discuss each candidate with committees as appropriate. However, it is recommended that committees discuss the merits of the candidates and frame their recommendations without heads or chairs in attendance.
188.8.131.52 College Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure
Each college shall have a committee with appropriate faculty representation to review the recommendations on promotion and tenure sent by the department head or chair. The committee reviews the cases of any candidates recommended by the departmental committee and/or the head or chair and, if requested by the dean, reviews cases of mandatory tenure receiving negative recommendations by both the departmental committee and the head or chair.
The purposes of the review are to verify that the recommendations are consistent with the evidence, reflecting college-wide standards, and that they consider the goals, objectives, and programmatic priorities of the college as components of the university mission.
The committee makes a recommendation on each candidate to the dean. The division of the vote at both the departmental and college level is conveyed to the university-level committee and provost, but must otherwise remain confidential. If the recommendation is at variance with that received from the department head or chair, reasons for that variance should be specified in the recommendation.
Whenever the dean does not concur with the committee’s recommendation, the committee is so notified. The dean sends to the provost the full dossier of every candidate for whom the dean makes positive recommendation and also the dossiers of those cases where the dean does not concur with the college committee’s positive recommendation. The dean includes a letter specifying the reasons for any reversal of the committee’s recommendation and, in cases of concurrence, may include a letter to bring out additional points not raised in earlier evaluations.
In the case of any candidate for promotion or tenure whose dossier is not being sent to the provost, the dean informs the department head or chair of the rejection and the department head or chair so notifies the departmental committee and the faculty member. In that case, the faculty member is notified in writing of appeal options.
The dossiers that the dean sends to the provost are accompanied by a statement describing the formation and procedures of the college committee and by a summary of the number of candidates considered by the committee in each category.
On recommendation of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, University Council approved the following further guidelines on formation and procedures of the college-level evaluation:
Committee Composition: Rules governing eligibility and selection of college committee members and the committee chair, and operating guidelines for the committee’s deliberations must be documented in written college policies, formally approved by the faculty.
- Individual colleges determine who is eligible to serve on committees from among tenured faculty members.
- The college committee may include department heads, chairs, or department-level promotion and tenure committee members. However, none of these members may vote on cases from their departments since each has already had an opportunity to vote or make a recommendation on those candidates.
- As far as possible, each department within the college should be represented on the committee.
- A significant element of faculty choice must be part of the committee selection procedure. Some possibilities are: election by the college faculty, appointment by an elected college executive committee, a combination of elected and appointed (by the dean or college executive committee) representatives, or an elected slate significantly larger than the required committee size, thus allowing the dean or college executive committee to appoint the committee from the elected slate.
- The dean may appoint up to three tenured faculty members to serve on the college committee in order to assure appropriate representation of disciplines or very large departments, participation by members of underrepresented groups, or other critical considerations to help assure fairness of the process in both fact and perception. Appointments by the dean may not constitute more than a third of the committee’s total membership.
- If department heads or chairs serve on college committees, their total number must be less than that of other faculty members.
- Committee appointments should be staggered to assure continuity from one year’s deliberation to the next. If possible, members should not serve more than two successive terms.
- Selection of the committee chair is determined in accordance with college policies, approved by the faculty.
- The dean may be present at college committee deliberations and serve in an advisory capacity to the committee to assure compliance with college and university procedures and fairness and equity of treatment of candidates. The dean does not vote on committee recommendations, but provides a separate recommendation to the provost.
- Faculty members appointed to serve on the university-level promotion and tenure committee are encouraged to observe college-level deliberations to better prepare for their roles, but should not participate or attempt to influence college-level recommendations.
Committee Procedures and Recommendations: The college committee may ask the department head or chair, the candidate, and/or a representative(s) of the department committee to appear before the college committee to present additional information or clarification of recommendations.
The committee makes a recommendation on each candidate to the dean and prepares a letter summarizing its evaluation to forward with the dossier. A record of the committee’s vote is documented and forwarded to the dean.
Review and Recommendations by the Dean: The dean sends forward to the provost the full dossier of every candidate for whom there is a positive recommendation from either the college committee or the dean, or both. The dean prepares a separate letter of recommendation to be forwarded with the dossier. Whenever the dean does not concur with the committee’s recommendation, the committee is so notified.
The dossiers that the dean sends to the provost are accompanied by a statement describing the formation and procedures of the college committee and a summary of the number of candidates considered by the committee in each category. The division of the vote at both the departmental and college levels is conveyed to the university-level committee and provost, but must otherwise remain confidential.
If both the college committee and the dean of the college reject a positive department recommendation, the usual process of review is concluded and the dossier is not sent forward to the provost. The dean informs the department head or chair of the rejection and the department head or chair notifies the departmental committee and the faculty member. In that case, the dean informs the faculty member in writing of the specific reasons for the decision and provides notification of appeal options outlined in chapter three, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion.”
184.108.40.206 University Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure
The University Promotion and Tenure Committee is appointed and chaired by the executive vice president and provost. The committee reviews the qualifications of the candidates recommended for promotion or tenure by each college dean. It also reviews those cases in which the dean does not concur with the college committee’s positive recommendation. The purpose of the reviews is to verify that the recommendations are consistent with the evidence, reflecting university standards, and that they are consistent with university objectives, programmatic plans, and budgetary constraints.
Guidelines for submission of candidates’ dossiers are available on the provost’s website.
The committee makes a recommendation on each candidate to the provost. The provost makes recommendations to the president, informing the committee of those recommendations, including the basis for any non-concurrence with committee recommendations. The provost informs the president of any variation between the provost’s recommendations and those of the committee.
The president makes recommendation to the Board of Visitors from among those candidates reported by the provost with the Board of Visitors being responsible for the final decision.
The provost notifies the appropriate dean of any negative decision reached by the provost, the president, or the Board of Visitors. The dean, when notifying the faculty member in writing, notes appeal options.
On recommendation of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, the University Council approved the following further guidelines on formation and procedures of the university committee:
- The university committee consists of the college deans and tenured faculty members of the rank of associate professor or higher, one from each college and one faculty member-at-large. The selection of the faculty members should be based on demonstrated professional excellence.
- All members of the committee hold voting privileges. Regardless of the size of the committee, the faculty must always have at least a majority of the potential votes. Consistent with the principle that participants at all levels of the promotion and tenure review process vote only once on an individual case, deans do not vote on cases from their own college. Similarly, faculty members serving on the university committee do not vote on any case they previously voted on, should this circumstance occur.
- Some significant element of faculty choice should be part of the selection procedure; therefore, each college faculty, by means deemed suitable by them, nominates two faculty members for each vacancy, from which the provost selects one. The Faculty Senate nominates two faculty members for the at-large appointment, from which the provost selects one.
- The faculty members of the committee hold rotating terms of three years.
- The provost chairs the committee, but does not hold voting privileges.
- All voting within the committee should be by written secret ballot; the division of any ballot must remain confidential.
220.127.116.11 Promotion and Tenure Guidelines
The promotion and tenure guidelines and a standard dossier cover page are available on the provost’s website. All candidate dossiers must be submitted to the University Promotion and Tenure Committee according to the guidelines on the provost’s website.
3.4.5 Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion
A faculty member who is notified of a negative decision following evaluation for a term reappointment during the probationary period, for a tenured appointment, or for promotion, and who believes that the decision was improperly or unfairly determined may appeal for review of the decision under conditions and procedures specified in this section.
Such an appeal must be filed, in writing, within 14 calendar days of formal notification of the decision, which shall make reference to appeal procedures. The appeal can only be based on grounds that certain relevant information was not provided or considered in the decision, or that the decision was influenced by improper consideration. The written appeal must specify the grounds and the basis for such an allegation.
Although the provisions for appeal described below are designed to give faculty members protection against capricious or arbitrary decisions, the faculty member who believes that these procedures have been improperly followed may, at any point, seek advice from the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation and/or file a grievance in accordance with the grievance procedure in chapter three, “Faculty Grievance Policy and Procedures.”
18.104.22.168 Probationary Reappointment
Faculty members on probationary term appointments should make no presumption of reappointment. The department head or chair with the advice of the departmental personnel committee or the faculty development committee determines non-reappointment. Notice of non-reappointment is furnished according to the schedule in section in chapter two, “Retirement, Resignation, and Non-Reappointment.” The specific reasons for the decision are provided to the faculty member in writing, if requested.
If the decision is based primarily on evaluation of the faculty member’s performance, including perceived lack of potential for further professional development, then the faculty member may request a review of the decision by the dean of the college. If the dean sustains the departmental decision, the faculty member may request, through the dean, the further and independent review of the decision by the properly constituted college committee on promotion and tenure.
The faculty member presents the appeal in writing as specified in section in chapter three, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion.” The faculty member may elect to present oral arguments to the committee. The college committee makes recommendation to the dean, who informs the faculty member of the committee’s recommendation and the dean’s subsequent decision. The dean’s decision closes the appeal process, unless it is at variance with the college committee’s recommendation, in which case the faculty member may appeal to the provost for a final decision.
22.214.171.124 Tenure Decision
Occasionally faculty members are evaluated for a tenured appointment during the probationary period but before the final probationary year. In such a case, there is no recourse to appeal or review of a negative decision, at whatever level it is reached, because of the certainty that the evaluation will be undertaken again within a limited time.
Evaluation for a tenured appointment is mandatory in the sixth year of probationary service unless the faculty member has given written notice of resignation from the faculty. If both the departmental committee and the department head or chair agree that the faculty member’s record does not warrant a tenured appointment, there is an automatic review of the candidate’s dossier by the dean. If the dean concurs, the faculty member is notified by the dean, in writing, of the decision and the specific reasons for it.
The faculty member may then request, through the dean, that the college committee on promotion and tenure independently review the decision. The faculty member presents the appeal in writing as specified in chapter three “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion.” The faculty member may elect to present oral arguments to the committee as well. If the committee concurs with the decision, the decision is final, the dean so notifies the faculty member in writing, and no further appeal is provided.
During the automatic review of the candidate’s dossier, the dean may wish to reserve judgment. In such a case, the dean notifies the faculty member of the departmental decision and tells the faculty member that he or she is requesting the college committee on promotion and tenure to undertake an independent review, as specified in the previous paragraph, and to make a recommendation. Should the college committee and the dean concur with the departmental decision, the decision is declared final, the faculty member is so notified, and no further appeal is provided. The specific reason for the decision is provided to the faculty member in writing.
In any case of college-level review of a negative departmental decision, a positive recommendation by either the college committee or the dean is sent with the dossier to the University Promotion and Tenure Committee in the same way as in the usual review process.
If the college committee and the dean undertake the review based on a positive recommendation of either or both the departmental committee and the department head or chair and if the college committee recommends that tenure not be awarded and the dean concurs, the faculty member is notified of the negative decision with reference to appeal procedures. The specific reasons for the decision are furnished to the faculty member in writing. The faculty member may then appeal to the provost for review of the decision by the university committee, which makes a recommendation to the provost for a final decision. The faculty member presents the appeal in writing as specified in chapter three, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion.” No further appeal is provided. The university committee may choose to hear oral arguments.
Should the provost not concur with a positive recommendation from the University Promotion and Tenure Committee, whether that recommendation culminates a usual review or an appeal, the faculty member is so notified in writing of the specific reason for the decision. The faculty member may appeal to the Faculty Review Committee. That committee investigates the case and, if the differences cannot be reconciled, makes a recommendation to the president on the matter. The president’s decision is final.
During review following an appeal, the college committee may find reason to believe that the departmental evaluation was biased or was significantly influenced by improper considerations. In that case, the reviewing committee may request that the college dean form an ad hoc committee to re-initiate the evaluation. The ad hoc committee is composed, as feasible, of faculty members in the candidate’s department or in closely allied fields and does not contain any members of the original committee.
Should the university committee make such a finding in the review of an appeal relative to the college evaluation, it requests the dean to form a new ad hoc committee at the college level. The ad hoc committee makes a recommendation to the committee that requested its formation.
126.96.36.199 Review of Progress Toward Promotion to Professor
At least one review of progress toward promotion to professor should be conducted three to five years after promotion and tenure is awarded (or after tenure is awarded at the current rank of associate professor). The review is required for faculty promoted and tenured during 2012-13 and thereafter. The review is to be substantive and thorough. At a minimum, an appropriate departmental committee (e.g., promotion and tenure committee, personnel committee, annual review committee) must review the faculty member’s relevant annual activity reports, peer evaluations of teaching, and authored materials since the last promotion. The committee may also wish to review an updated curriculum vita. The faculty member may wish to complete a draft promotion dossier (using the format available on the provost’s website) to organize and present information for review.
The review should be developmental and focus on the faculty member’s progress toward promotion to professor. The developmental guidance should focus on recommended future activities and plans that will position the faculty member for promotion. All reviews must be in writing, with the faculty member acknowledging receipt by signing and returning a copy for his or her departmental file. In addition, the faculty member may request a meeting with the department committee chair and the department head or chair to discuss the review and recommendations. Individual faculty members are also encouraged to seek guidance and mentoring from senior colleagues and the department head or chair.
188.8.131.52 Promotion Consideration and Decision
There is no specification for minimum or maximum time of service in the rank of associate professor with tenure. Consideration for promotion to professor may be requested of the department head or chair by a faculty member at any time if the department head or chair or committee has not chosen to undertake such an evaluation. However, appeal of a negative promotion decision is provided only if the faculty member has been in rank for at least six years and if the faculty member has formally requested, in writing, consideration for promotion in a previous year. In such a case, for a member of the college faculty, or a member of the administrative and professional faculty seeking promotion in rank through an academic department, an appeal follows the same procedures as in chapter three, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion.”
3.5 Annual Evaluation, Post-Tenure Review, and Periodic Review of College and Departmental Administrators
3.5.1 Annual Evaluation and Salary Adjustments
All departments are required to have written guidelines outlining the process and criteria used in faculty evaluations. The adoption of such guidelines promotes consistency and transparency in this important aspect of faculty life. Guidelines and procedures for the annual review of University or Alumni Distinguished Professors are established by the president and/or provost, who are responsible for their evaluations.
Every faculty member’s professional performance is evaluated annually and written feedback is provided separately from confirmation of any merit adjustments. The process begins with submission of a faculty activity report (FAR). All non-temporary faculty members must submit a FAR annually. These reports form part of the basis for performance evaluations, awarding merit adjustments, and promotion, tenure, and post-tenure reviews.
Department heads/chairs are responsible for conducting annual faculty evaluations, either independently or in consultation with an appropriately charged committee in accordance with departmental procedures. All evaluations must be in writing and include a discussion of contributions and accomplishments in all areas of the faculty member’s responsibilities, comments on the faculty member’s plans and goals, and any recommendations for improvement or change. Faculty members should receive their written evaluations within 90 days of submission of required materials, and they acknowledge receipt by signing and returning a copy for their departmental file, or the electronic equivalent. Acknowledging receipt of the evaluation does not imply agreement. If a faculty member substantially disagrees with the evaluation, he or she may submit a written response to the department head/chair for inclusion in his or her personnel file.
In addition to their annual evaluation letters, all pre-tenure faculty members receive at least two thorough reviews during the six-year probationary period and written feedback on their progress toward tenure by their departmental promotion and tenure committee prior to reappointment in accordance with guidance included in chapter three, “Probationary Period.”
Faculty with part-time appointments are reviewed on the annual review cycle used for all faculty members in the department. For purposes of annual review, the fraction of the appointment must be taken into account when considering the appropriate level of achievement in that year.
Salary adjustments are based on merit; they are not automatic. Recommendations for salary adjustments originate with the department head or chair and are reviewed by the dean, the provost, and the president. Because salary adjustments are determined administratively on an annual basis and based significantly on the quality of the faculty member's response to assigned responsibility, they do not necessarily reflect an accurate measure of the full scope of the faculty member's professional development as evaluated by relevant committees in the tenure and promotion process.
The salary adjustments of continuing faculty members are approved by the Board of Visitors, and each faculty member is informed in writing of the board's action as soon as possible. (See chapter two, “Faculty Compensation Plan.”)
3.5.2 Unsatisfactory Performance
For tenured and pre-tenure faculty members, failure to meet the minimal obligations and standards the department has stipulated for its faculty results in an "unsatisfactory" rating. Written notification of an unsatisfactory rating and the considerations upon which it was based is given to the faculty member, with copies to the dean and provost. A single unsatisfactory evaluation indicates a serious problem, which should prompt remedial action. Faculty members may respond in writing with a letter to the head or chair for inclusion in their personnel file, or they may seek redress through either the reconciliation or grievance procedures. Two successive annual ratings of unsatisfactory performance for a tenured faculty member results in a post-tenure review.
3.5.3 Departmental Minimal Standards
Each academic department shall develop, maintain, and publish a statement of minimal standards for satisfactory faculty performance using the following process. Standards should be written with the participation of faculty in the department and approved by a vote of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in the department. Standards developed and approved by departments and the head or chair are then reviewed by the college-level promotion and tenure committee and the dean, and reviewed and approved by the provost. Once approved, the department's standards are published and made available to all faculty in the department. Revisions of departmental standards also follow these procedures. The following guidance is provided for the development of departmental minimal standards:
- Departments should carefully assess and state the overall standards of professional performance and contribution they consider minimally acceptable for tenured faculty. Each department's evaluation mechanism should allow a distinction between performance that is deficient in one or more areas requiring improvement, and performance that is so seriously deficient as to merit the formal designation "unsatisfactory."
- Departmental standards should embrace the entire scope of faculty contributions. Expectations should recognize differences in faculty assignments within the same department. Departmental standards should typically address the individual's skill, effort, and effectiveness in contributing to all aspects of the instructional mission; the individual's activity in and contributions to the academic discipline; the individual's contributions to the collective life of the department, college, and university; and the individual's activity in and contributions to the university's outreach mission.
- Departmental statements should affirm support for the basic principles of academic freedom and should express tolerance for minority opinions, dissent from professional orthodoxies, and honest and civil disagreement with administrative actions.
- Departmental statements should include the expectation that tenured faculty will adhere to the standards of conduct and ethical behavior as stated in the Faculty Handbook and/or promulgated through other official channels.
3.5.4 Post-Tenure Review
Nothing in this section should be interpreted as abridging the university's right to proceed directly to dismissal for cause as defined in chapter three, “Dismissal for Cause,” or the right of individual faculty members to pursue existing mechanisms of reconciliation and redress.
A post-tenure review is mandatory whenever a faculty member with tenure receives two consecutive annual evaluations of unsatisfactory performance. Annual reviews for years spent on leave without pay are disregarded for the purpose of this calculation. The departmental promotion and tenure committee conducts the review, unless the same committee was involved in the original unsatisfactory annual evaluations. In this case, the department elects a committee to carry out the review function.
Upon recommendation of the head or chair and with the approval of the dean, a post-tenure review may be waived or postponed if there are extenuating circumstances (such as health problems).
The purpose of a post-tenure review is to focus the perspective of faculty peers on the full scope of a faculty member's professional competence, performance, and contributions to the department, college, and university missions and priorities.
The faculty member has both the right and the obligation to provide a dossier with all documents, materials, and statements he or she believes are relevant and necessary for the review. Ordinarily, such a dossier includes at least the following: an updated curriculum vita, the past two or more faculty activity reports, teaching assessments, and a description of activities and accomplishments since the last faculty activity report. The faculty member is given a period of no less than four weeks to assemble the dossier for the committee. The head or chair supplies the review committee with the last two annual evaluations, all materials that were considered in those evaluations, any further materials deemed relevant, and other materials the committee requests. Copies of all materials supplied to the committee are given to the faculty member. The faculty member has the right to provide a written rebuttal of evidence provided by the head or chair.
The committee weighs the faculty member's contributions to the discipline, the department, and the university through learning, discovery, and engagement. The burden of proving unsatisfactory performance is on the university. The committee prepares a summary of its findings and makes a recommendation to the head or chair, with copies to the dean and provost. Final action and notification of the faculty member is the responsibility of the head or chair and dean, with the concurrence of the provost.
The review may result in one of the following outcomes:
Certification of satisfactory performance: The committee may conclude that the faculty member's competence and professional contributions are satisfactory to meet the department's minimal expectations, thus failing to sustain the assessment of the head or chair. The review is then complete. An unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year is counted as the first in any future sequence.
Certification of deficiencies: The committee may concur that the faculty member's competence and/or professional contributions are unsatisfactory to meet the department's minimal expectations. The committee may recommend dismissal for cause, a sanction other than dismissal for cause, or a single period of remediation not to exceed two years.
Remediation: If a period of remediation is recommended, the committee specifies in detail the deficiencies it noted, defines specific goals and measurable outcomes the faculty member should achieve, and establishes a timeline for meeting the goals. The head or chair meets with the faculty member at least twice annually to review the individual's progress. The head or chair prepares a summary report for the committee following each meeting and at the end of the specified remediation period, at which time the committee either certifies satisfactory performance or recommends dismissal for cause or a sanction other than dismissal for cause following the procedures described below.
Sanction other than dismissal for cause: A departmental recommendation to impose a severe sanction, as defined in chapter three, “Imposition of a Severe Sanction,” shall be referred to the college-level promotion and tenure committee, which reviews the case as presented to the departmental committee, provides an opportunity for the faculty member to be heard, and determines whether the recommendation is consistent with the evidence. The college-level committee may reject, uphold, or modify the specific sanction recommended by the departmental committee. If the college-level committee also recommends imposition of a severe sanction, then the same procedures used for dismissal for cause guides the process. The reviews conducted by the department- and college-level committees satisfy the requirement in step two in chapter three, “Dismissal for Cause,” for an informal inquiry by an ad hoc or standing personnel committee. Thus, in the case of a post-tenure review, this step is not repeated.
If a severe sanction is imposed or ultimately rejected, then the post-tenure review cycle is considered complete. An unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year is counted as the first in any future sequence.
Dismissal for cause: If dismissal for cause is recommended, the case shall be referred to the college-level promotion and tenure committee as described in chapter three, “College Evaluation,” which reviews the case as presented to the departmental committee and determines whether the recommendation is consistent with the evidence. If the college-level committee upholds the recommendation for dismissal, then the procedures specified in chapter three, “Dismissal for Cause,” begin immediately. The committee review satisfies the requirement in chapter three for an informal inquiry by a standing personnel committee.
3.5.5 Periodic Review of Academic Deans, Dean of University Libraries, Dean of the Honors College, Department Heads, Senior Administrators, and Academic Vice Presidents
In addition to an annual performance evaluation, and in accordance with University Policy 6105, “Periodic Evaluation of Academic Deans and Vice Presidents,” academic deans, the dean of University Libraries, the dean of the Honors College, and academic vice presidents are subject to evaluations every five years. If the review of a dean cannot be conducted in the fifth year as would usually be the case, the executive vice president and provost will inform the officers of the relevant college or University Libraries faculty association as to the reason for delay. A review may also be initiated at any time by the executive vice president and provost and/or at the request of at least one-third of the tenure-track faculty in the college, or in the case of University Libraries, one-third of the continued appointment faculty. If the review of a vice president who reports to the provost cannot be conducted in the fifth year, the executive vice president and provost will notify the deans and the chairs of the college and University Libraries faculty associations as to the reason for the delay. In the semester prior to a periodic evaluation, the faculty association will be notified of the review and the association may schedule a meeting with the provost to discuss the upcoming review.
University Policy 6100, “Department Head or Chair Appointments,” outlines the review process for academic department heads or chairs. In addition, colleges should adopt more detailed procedures in accordance with the broad guidelines below so that reviews may be conducted consistently and appropriately across the college for those serving in academic leadership roles.
The purpose of the periodic review is to support the success of the university's academic units by providing developmental feedback to promote fair and effective academic leadership. Reappointment of an individual to academic department head, chair, academic dean, or academic vice president must be preceded by a periodic review conducted in accordance with guidelines outlined in University Policy 6105 or in University Policy 6100.
3.6 Imposition of a Severe Sanction or Dismissal for Cause
3.6.1 Adequate Cause
Adequate cause for imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal is related, directly and substantially, to the fitness of faculty members in their professional capacity as teachers and scholars. Imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights of American citizens.
Adequate cause includes: violation of professional ethics (see chapter two, “Professional Responsibilities and Conduct”); incompetence as determined through post-tenure review; willful failure to carry out professional obligations or assigned responsibilities; willful violation of university and/or government policies; falsification of information relating to professional qualifications; inability to perform assigned duties satisfactorily because of incarceration; or personal deficiencies that prevent the satisfactory performance of responsibilities (e.g., dependence on drugs or alcohol).
Reason to consider the imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal for cause is usually determined by a thorough and careful investigation by an appropriately charged faculty committee (as in the case of allegations of ethical or scholarly misconduct, or through a post-tenure review) or by the relevant administrator (for example, the department head or chair, compliance officer, internal auditor, or Virginia Tech Police). Generally, these investigations result in a report of findings; some reports also include a recommendation for sanctions. The report is directed to the relevant administrator for action; it is also shared with the faculty member. Imposition of a severe sanction or initiation of dismissal for cause proceedings, if warranted, follows the procedures set forth below.
3.6.2 Imposition of a Severe Sanction
Definition and Examples: A severe sanction generally involves a significant loss or penalty to a faculty member such as, but not limited to, a demotion in rank and/or a reduction in salary or suspension without pay for a period not to exceed one year, imposed for unacceptable conduct and/or a serious breach of university policy.
Routine personnel actions such as a recommendation for no or a below-average merit increase, conversion from a calendar year to an academic year appointment, reassignment, or removal of an administrative stipend do not constitute “sanctions” within the meaning of this policy. A personnel action such as these may be a valid issue for grievance under procedures defined in the Faculty Handbook.
Process for Imposing a Severe Sanction: The conduct of a faculty member, although not constituting adequate cause for dismissal, may be sufficiently grave to justify imposition of a severe sanction. Imposition of a severe sanction follows the same procedures as dismissal for cause beginning with step one. If the matter is not resolved at the first step, a standing or ad hoc faculty committee conducts an informal inquiry (step two). The requirement for such an informal inquiry is satisfied if the investigation was conducted by an appropriately charged faculty committee (as would be the case with an alleged violation of the ethics or scholarly misconduct policies) and, having determined that in its opinion there is adequate cause for imposing a severe sanction, refers the matter to the administration.
3.6.3 Dismissal for Cause
The following procedures apply to faculty members with tenure or for dismissal of a tenure-track faculty member before the end of their current contract.
Dismissal is preceded by:
Step one: Discussions between the faculty member, department head or chair, dean, and/or provost, looking toward a mutual settlement.
Step two: Informal inquiry by a standing (or, if necessary, ad hoc) faculty committee having concern for personnel matters. This committee attempts to effect an adjustment and, failing to do so, determines whether in its opinion dismissal proceedings should be undertaken, without its opinion being binding on the president’s decision whether to proceed.
Step three: The furnishing by the president (in what follows, the president may delegate the provost to serve instead) of a statement of particular charges, in consultation with the department head or chair and dean. The statement of charges is included in a letter to the faculty member indicating the intention to dismiss, with notification of the right to a formal hearing. The faculty member is given a specified reasonable time limit to request a hearing, that time limit is no less than 10 days.
Procedures for conducting a formal hearing, if requested: If a hearing committee is to be established, the president asks the Faculty Senate, through its president, to nominate nine faculty members to serve on the hearing committee. These faculty members should be nominated on the basis of their objectivity, competence, and regard in which they are held in the academic community. They must have no bias or untoward interest in the case and be available at the anticipated time of hearing. The faculty member and the president each have a maximum of two challenges from among the nominees without stated cause. The president then names a five-member hearing committee from the remaining names on the nominated slate. The hearing committee elects its chair.
Pending a final decision on the dismissal, the faculty member is suspended only if immediate harm to him or herself or to others is threatened by continuance. If the president believes such suspension is warranted, consultation takes place with the Committee on Reconciliation of the Faculty Senate concerning the propriety, the length, and other conditions of the suspension. Ordinarily, salary continues during such a period of suspension.
The hearing committee may hold joint pre-hearing meetings with both parties to simplify the issues, effect stipulations of facts, provide for the exchange of documentary or other information, and achieve such other appropriate pre-hearing objectives as will make the hearing fair and expeditious.
Notice of hearing of at least 20 days is made in writing. The faculty member may waive appearance at the hearing, instead responding to the charges in writing or otherwise denying the charges or asserting that the charges do not support a finding of adequate cause. In such a case, the hearing committee evaluates all available evidence and rests its recommendation on the evidence in the record.
The committee, in consultation with the president and the faculty member, exercises its judgment as to whether the hearing is public or private. During the proceedings, the faculty member is permitted to have an academic advisor and legal counsel. At the request of either party or on the initiative of the hearing committee, a representative of an appropriate educational association is permitted to attend the hearing as an observer.
A verbatim record of the hearing is taken.
The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the university.
The hearing committee grants adjournment to enable either party to investigate evidence about which a valid claim of surprise is made. The faculty member is afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence. The administration cooperates with the hearing committee in securing witnesses and evidence. The faculty member and administration have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. The committee determines the admissibility of statements of unavailable witnesses and, if possible, provides for interrogatories.
The hearing committee is not bound by strict rules of legal evidence, and may admit any evidence that is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every possible effort is made to obtain the most reliable evidence available.
The findings of fact and the recommendation are based solely on the hearing record. The president and the faculty member are notified of the recommendation in writing and are given a written copy of the record of the hearing.
If the hearing committee concludes that adequate cause for dismissal has not been established, it so reports to the president. In such a case, the committee may recommend sanctions short of outright dismissal or may recommend no sanctions. If the president rejects the recommendation, the hearing committee and the faculty member are so informed in writing, with reasons, and each is given an opportunity for response.
Appeal to the Board of Visitors: If the president decides to impose dismissal or other severe sanction, whether that is the recommendation of the hearing committee, the faculty member may request that the full record of the case be submitted to the Board of Visitors (or a duly constituted committee of the board). The board’s review is based on the record of the committee hearing, and it provides opportunity for argument, written or oral or both, by the principals at the hearing or their representatives. If the recommendation of the hearing committee is not sustained, the proceeding returns to the committee with specific objections. The committee then reconsiders, taking into account the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary. The board makes a final decision only after study of the committee’s reconsideration.
Notice of Termination/Dismissal: In cases where gross misconduct is decided, termination is usually immediate. The standard for gross misconduct is behavior so egregious that it evokes condemnation by the academic community generally and is so utterly blameworthy as to make it inappropriate to offer additional notice or severance pay. The first faculty committee that considers the case determines gross misconduct. In cases not involving gross misconduct: (a) a faculty member with tenure receives up to one year of salary or notice, and (b) a probationary faculty member receives up to three months’ salary or notice. These terms of dismissal begin on the date of final notification of dismissal.
3.7 Faculty Grievance Policy and Procedures
The following procedures are provided as the means for resolution of grievances against a supervisor or member(s) of the university administration brought by tenured or tenure-track faculty members.
3.7.1 Faculty Reconciliation and Mediation Services
Informal Dialogue: It should be possible to resolve most faculty concerns or complaints through informal communication among colleagues working together in the academic enterprise. Accordingly, a faculty member who feels he or she has a grievance is encouraged to take it to his or her immediate supervisor in the collegial spirit of problem solving rather than as a confrontation between adversaries.
Reconciliation: At the initiation of the grievance procedure, or at any earlier time, the grievant may request the assistance of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation in fashioning an equitable solution. Contacting the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation is not required in filing a grievance, but it may be useful if the grievant feels that the issue may be amenable to, but will require time for, negotiation; or if the grievant is unsure whether his or her concern is a legitimate issue for a grievance; or if personal relations between the parties involved in the grievance have become strained.
For a potential grievance issue to qualify for consideration by the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation, the grievant must contact the chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation within 30 calendar days of the time when the grievant knew or should have known of the event or action that is the basis for the potential grievance, just as if beginning the regular grievance process. If the grievant requests assistance from the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation, that committee requests a postponement of the time limits involved in the formal grievance procedure while it deals with the case. The request is submitted in writing to the vice provost for faculty affairs by the chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation. Also, the grievant should reach an understanding with the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation of the time frame planned for that committee’s work on the case, such time not to exceed 60 calendar days.
Faculty members may also consult the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation about serious disagreements with immediate supervisors or other university administrators concerning issues that may not be eligible for consideration within the grievance process. In such instances, the committee contacts the relevant administrator to determine if there is an interest and willingness to explore informal resolution of the dispute; it is not necessary to notify the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
Mediation: Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process through which trained neutral third persons (mediators) assist people to express their concerns and develop solutions to the dispute in a safe and structured environment. Assistance with mediation is available through Human Resources. Because mediation is voluntary, both parties must agree to participate in order for mediation to occur. Faculty members and supervisors are encouraged to consider using mediation to resolve disputes or to help address a conflict between a faculty member and another member of the Virginia Tech community.
Role of Mediators: Mediators do not make judgments, determine facts, or decide the outcome; instead they facilitate discussion between the participants, who identify the solutions best suited to their situation. No agreement is made unless and until it is acceptable to the participants.
Requesting Mediation: Mediation is available at any time, without the filing of a grievance. Additionally, mediation may be requested by any party during the grievance process prior to step four. If, after the initiation of a formal grievance, both parties agree to participate in mediation, the grievance is placed on administrative hold until the mediation process is complete. If the parties come to a resolution of the dispute through mediation, the parties are responsible to each other for ensuring that the provisions of the agreement are followed. In the event that the parties are not able to reach a mutual resolution to the dispute through mediation, the grievant may request that the grievance be reactivated and the process continues.
Mediation differs from faculty reconciliation in that mediators do not engage in fact-finding or in evaluation of decisions. Both mediation and reconciliation, however, are voluntary; no party is required to participate in either process.
3.7.2 The Formal Grievance Procedure
If the assistance of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation is not desired or is not requested; or if that committee determines that it cannot provide assistance in the matter; or if the grievant finds that the length of time the Committee on Reconciliation plans or takes with the case is excessive; or if the grievant is not satisfied with the recommendations of that committee, the grievant may pursue the issue as a formal grievance through the following procedure. Department heads or chairs, deans, directors, and other administrative faculty will cooperate with the grievant in the mechanics of processing the grievance, but the grievant alone is responsible for preparation of his or her case.
Step one: The grievant must meet with his or her immediate supervisor (usually the department head or chair) within 30 calendar days of the date that grievant knew or should have known of the event or action that is basis for the grievance and orally identifies the grievance and the grievant’s concerns. The supervisor provides an oral response to the grievant within five weekdays following the meeting. If the supervisor’s response is satisfactory to the grievant, that ends the matter.
Step two: If a satisfactory resolution of the grievance is not achieved by the immediate supervisor’s oral response, the grievant may submit a written statement of the grievance and the relief requested to the immediate supervisor. This statement must be on the faculty grievance form, must define the grievance and the relief requested specifically and precisely, and must be submitted to the immediate supervisor within five weekdays of the time when the grievant received the immediate supervisor’s oral response to the first step meeting. Faculty grievance forms are available on the provost’s website.
Within five weekdays of receiving the written statement of the grievance, the immediate supervisor, in turn, gives the grievant a written response on the faculty grievance form, citing reasons for action taken or not taken. If the written response of the immediate supervisor is satisfactory to the grievant, that ends the matter.
Step three: If the resolution of the grievance proposed in the written response by the immediate supervisor is not acceptable, the grievant may advance the grievance to the next level of university administration by checking the appropriate place on the faculty grievance form, signing and sending the form to the next level administrator within five weekdays of receiving the written response from the immediate supervisor. The next level of administration for college faculty is usually the college dean. The administrator involved at this next level is hereafter referred to as the second-level administrator.
Following receipt of the faculty grievance form, the second-level administrator, or designated representative, meets with the grievant within five weekdays. The second-level administrator may request the immediate supervisor of the grievant be present; the grievant may similarly request that a representative of his or her choice from among the university faculty be present. Unless the grievant is represented by a member of the faculty who is also a lawyer, the second-level administrator does not have legal counsel present. The second-level administrator gives the grievant a written decision on the faculty grievance form within five weekdays after the meeting, citing reasons for his or her decision. If the second-level administrator’s written response to the grievance is satisfactory to the grievant it ends the matter.
Step four: If the resolution of the grievance proposed in the written response from the second-level administrator is not acceptable, the grievant may advance the grievance within five weekdays to the level of the provost, including consideration by an impartial hearing panel of the Faculty Review Committee. A description of the charge and membership of the Faculty Review Committee is included in chapter one, “Faculty Review Committee.”
Upon receiving the faculty grievance form requesting step four review, the provost, or appropriate designated representative, acknowledges receipt of the grievance within five weekdays and forwards a copy of the Procedures of the Faculty Review Committee to parties in the grievance process. The provost immediately forwards a copy of the grievance to the president of the Faculty Senate, who also writes to the grievant to acknowledge receipt of the grievance within five weekdays of receipt of the faculty grievance form from the provost.
The grievant may petition the provost to bypass the Faculty Review Committee and rule on the grievance. If the provost accepts the request, there is no subsequent opportunity for the grievance to be heard by a hearing panel. The provost’s decision, however, may be appealed to the president, as described in step five. If the provost does not accept the petition, the Faculty Review Committee hears the grievance as outlined in these procedures.
Hearing Panel: A hearing panel consists of five members appointed by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee from among the members of the Faculty Review Committee. The chair of the Faculty Review Committee polls all appointees to ensure that they have no conflict of interest in the case. Both parties to the grievance may challenge one of the appointments, if they so desire, without need to state cause, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee appoints the needed replacement or replacements. Other replacements are made only for cause. The chair of the Faculty Review Committee rules on issues of cause.
To ensure uniformity in practice, the chair of the Faculty Review Committee or his or her designee serves as the non-voting chair of each hearing panel. In the event that the chair of the Faculty Review Committee has a conflict of interest concerning a case, the chair appoints a disinterested third party from among the members of the Faculty Review Committee not already appointed to the hearing panel for the case to serve as chair of the hearing panel.
Hearings: After a hearing panel is appointed, the chair of the Faculty Review Committee requests that each party to the grievance provide relevant documentation to be shared among the parties and the hearing panel. The panel holds its initial hearing with both principals present within 15 weekdays of receipt of the grievance by the Faculty Senate president. If the panel feels it needs to investigate the case further, or requires more information, or desires to hear witnesses, the hearing is adjourned until the panel completes the necessary work or scheduling. The hearing is then reconvened as appropriate.
Each party to the grievance may have a representative present during the sessions of the hearing at which testimony is presented. The representative may speak on their behalf if so requested. Representatives may be legal counsel, if both parties are so represented, but if the grievant does not wish to have legal counsel at a hearing, neither party to the grievance may have legal counsel present.
These impartial panel hearings are administrative functions, not adversarial proceedings. Therefore, if legal counsels are present they must understand that the proceedings do not follow courtroom or trial procedures and rules. Participation by legal counsel is at the invitation of the parties they represent and is subject to the rulings of the chair of the hearing panel. Detailed procedures followed in hearings are specified in the “Procedures of the Faculty Review Committee” as approved by the Faculty Senate.
Findings and Recommendations: The hearing panel concludes its work and makes its recommendations within 45 weekdays of receipt of the grievance by the Faculty Senate president. The time limit for consideration may be extended by agreement of both parties.
The hearing panel formulates written findings and recommendations regarding disposition of the grievance and forwards copies to the provost, the grievant, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee.
Provost’s Action: The provost meets with the grievant within 10 weekdays after receiving the findings and recommendations of the hearing panel to discuss the case and advise the grievant about the prospects for disposition of the case. Within 10 weekdays of that meeting, the provost sends to the grievant his or her decision in writing concerning the disposition of the grievance. If the provost’s decision is fully consonant with (or exceeds) the recommendations of the hearing panel, or if it is satisfactory to the grievant even if it differs from the recommendations of the hearing panel, that ends the matter.
Step five: If the provost’s decision is not acceptable to the grievant and not consonant with the recommendations of the hearing panel, the grievant may appeal in writing to the president within 20 calendar days. The president acts as he or she sees fit. The president’s decision is final.
3.7.3 Timeliness of Grievance and Procedural Compliance
A grievance must be brought forward in a timely manner. It is the responsibility of the grievant to initiate the grievance process within 30 calendar days of the time when he or she knew or should have known of the event or action that is the basis for the grievance. The university administration is not required to accept a grievance for processing if the grievant does not meet the 30-day deadline, except in cases of demonstrated good cause.
Scheduled commitments made prior to the time of filing or advancement of a grievance that preclude action by either of the parties to the grievance automatically extend time limits for their duration unless this would be demonstrably harmful to the fair processing of the grievance. In such cases, on written request by the grievant to the appropriate office for that step, the grievance is advanced to the next step in the grievance process.
If the grievant does not follow the time limits specified in the grievance procedure it is assumed that he or she accepted the last proposed resolution as satisfactory. If the grievant desires to advance the grievance after the appropriate specified time limits have lapsed, the administrator who receives the late submission notifies the chair of the Faculty Review Committee in writing, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee determines if there was good cause for the delay. If so, the grievance proceeds. If not, the process ends with the most recently proposed resolution in force. The finding on the matter by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee is communicated to both parties in writing.
If either party to a grievance charges the other with procedural violations other than time limit issues, a special committee of the president of the Faculty Senate, the chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee (or the vice president of the senate if the president is also chair of the Faculty Review Committee) is convened to rule on the question, as in disputes about the validity of issues qualifying for the grievance procedure. The special committee has the following options. It can either find no significant procedural violation occurred, in which case the grievance process continues unaffected, or that a significant procedural violation did occur. If the administrator committed a significant procedural violation, the grievance automatically qualifies for advancement to the next step in the grievance process. If the grievant committed a significant procedural violation, the grievance process ends at that point with the last proposed resolution established as the final disposition of the case.
3.7.4 Valid Issues for Grievance
For this process, a grievance is defined as a complaint by a faculty member alleging a violation, misinterpretation, or incorrect application of a policy, procedure, or practice of the university that directly affects the grievant. Some examples of valid issues for filing a grievance are: improperly or unfairly determined personnel decisions that result in an unsatisfactory annual performance evaluation, unreasonable merit adjustment or salary level, or excessive teaching load/work assignments; substantive violations of promotion and tenure procedures (see appeal process in chapter three, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Tenure, or Promotion”); reprisals; substantive error in the application of policy; and matters relating to academic freedom.
Issues not open to grievance: While most faculty disputes with the university administration may be dealt with by this grievance policy, the following issues may not be made the subject of a grievance: determination of policy appropriately promulgated by the university administration or the university governance system; those items falling within the jurisdiction of other university policies and procedures (for example, complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment, or an appeal related to the merits of a promotion and/or tenure decision); the contents of personnel policies, procedures, rules, regulations, ordinances, and statutes; the routine assignment of university resources (e.g., space, operating funds, parking, etc.); usual actions taken, or recommendations made, by administrators or committee members acting in an official capacity in the grievance process; termination of appointment by removal for just cause, non-reappointment, or abolition of position; or allegations of misconduct in scholarly activities.
Adjudication of disputes on the validity of issues qualifying for consideration under the faculty grievance procedures: If a university administrator rules that an issue does not qualify for the grievance process, the grievant may write to the chair of the Faculty Review Committee within five weekdays of receiving such notification and request a ruling from a special committee consisting of the president of the Faculty Senate, the chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee. The special committee considers the matter (including consultations with both parties if deemed necessary) and rules by majority vote on the admissibility of the matter to the grievance process. This special committee is called together by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee, who also sends a written report of the results of the deliberations of the committee to all parties concerned.
3.7.5 Particular Concerns and Definitions
Time limits are subject to extension by written agreement of both parties. The grievant and the administrator involved at that particular step of the discussion make such an agreement. (An agreement form to extend the grievance response time is available on the provost’s website.)
Grievances that advance to step four during or close to the summer and/or teaching breaks during the academic year may require some extension of the stipulated time limits. The principals and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee negotiate such an extension. Every effort is made, however, to stay within the stipulated time limits. In case of disagreement, the Faculty Senate president rules on time extension and procedure questions, which might include a hearing conducted by three rather than five panel members, or other recommendations designed to expedite the proceedings while providing peer review of the grievance.
If a faculty member is away from his or her assigned work location at the time he or she discovers the event or action that is the basis for a grievance, the 30-day period during which the grievant must meet with his or her immediate supervisor to initiate the grievance process begins when the faculty member returns to his or her assigned work location. If the date of return causes a delay of such length that the grievance, or its resolution, is not timely, the grievant may submit the grievance in writing to the immediate supervisor (step two), omitting personal meetings until such time as the faculty member returns to his or her assigned work location.
“Weekdays,” as used in this procedure, include Monday through Friday only and only when those days are not national, state, or religious holidays relevant to the principals in the grievance.
To protect a grievant from undue pressure in the pursuit of a grievance, if a grievant becomes ill and takes sick leave the grievance process stops until such time as the grievant is able to resume his or her duties. Exceptions to this provision are made at the request of the grievant, but only if the grievant obtains and produces medical certification that proceeding with the grievance will not be harmful to the health of the grievant, or exacerbate the ailment that required taking sick leave.
All costs of legal counsel employed by a grievant are borne by the grievant.
If a grievant is employed away from Blacksburg, and he or she is required to travel away from their duty station in resolution of their grievance, the university pays all travel costs permitted under state regulations.
In the event that a faculty member discovers he or she has a grievance about actions by an administrator above the level of his or her immediate supervisor that directly involve the faculty member, or with actions by an administrator not in his or her department that directly involve the faculty member, the grievant initiates the grievance process by seeking the intervention of his or her immediate supervisor within 30 calendar days of the discovery of the event or action that is the basis for the grievance. If that effort does not resolve the grievance satisfactorily, the grievant, after consulting his or her immediate supervisor, may file the faculty grievance form at the appropriate level or with the appropriate administrative office to initiate response from the administrator perceived as the source of the action causing the grievance. The grievance process then proceeds from that level onward in the usual fashion.
A grievance filed by a faculty member concerning an action of the provost is handled by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee and a regular impartial hearing panel, but the findings and recommendations of the hearing panel are sent to the president of the university for his or her ruling, rather than to the provost. A grievance filed by a faculty member concerning an action of the president of the university is dealt with by a special panel appointed by the provost in consultation with the president of the Faculty Senate.
Any final resolution of a grievance must be consonant with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and university policy.
Once a grievance is resolved, either to the satisfaction of the grievant, or if not to the satisfaction of the grievant, by the action of the provost in consonance with the hearing panel recommendations, or by the ruling of the president, that specific grievance is closed and may not be made the subject of another grievance.
3.7.6 Overview of the Formal Grievance Process for Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty
Below is an abbreviated overview of the grievance process and deadlines. Refer to chapter three, “The Formal Grievance Procedure,” for specific details and options available in each step of the grievance process.
Time limits are subject to extension by written agreement of both parties. The grievant and the administrator involved at that particular step of the discussion are the makers of such an agreement. (An agreement form to extend the grievance response time is available on the provost’s website.)
- Within 30 days of event
- 1a. Grievant meets with immediate supervisor (usually department head).
- Within 5 weekdays:
- 1b. Department head provides oral response.
- 1c. If department head’s response is satisfactory to grievant, that ends the matter.
- 1d.If department head’s response is not satisfactory to grievant, move to step two within 5 weekdays.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 2a. Grievant submits written grievance to department head.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 2b. Department head responds in writing on grievance form.
- 2c. If department head’s response is satisfactory to grievant, that ends the matter.
- 2d. If department head’s response is not satisfactory to grievant, move to step three within 5 weekdays.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 3a. Grievant advances grievance form to the second level administrator (usually dean).
- Within 5 weekdays
- 3b. Dean meets with grievant; dean may request department head to be present.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 3c. Dean responds in writing on grievance form.
- 3d. If dean’s written response is satisfactory to grievant, that ends the matter.
- 3e. If dean’s written response is not satisfactory to grievant, move to step four within 5 weekdays.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 4a. Grievant advances grievance form to the provost.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 4b. Provost acknowledges receipt of grievance and forwards copy to Faculty Senate president to receive recommendation of an impartial hearing panel of the Faculty Review Committee.
- Within 5 weekdays
- 4c. Faculty Senate president acknowledges in writing to grievant that copy of grievance has been received from provost.
- Within 15 weekdays
- 4d. Faculty Review Committee chair appoints hearing panel from among Faculty Review Committee members; panel holds its initial meeting with both principals.
- Within 45 weekdays
- 4e. Hearing panel concludes its work and makes recommendations to provost and grievant.
- Within 10 weekdays
- 4f. Provost meets with grievant.
- Within 10 weekdays
- 4g. Provost notifies grievant in writing of his or her decision.
- 4h. If the provost’s decision is fully consonant with (or exceeds) the recommendations of the hearing panel, or if it is satisfactory to the grievant even if it differs from the recommendations of the hearing panel, that ends the matter.
- 4i. If the provost’s decision is not acceptable to the grievant and not consonant with the recommendations of the hearing panel, move to step five within 20 calendar days.
- Within 20 calendar days
- 5a. Grievant appeals in writing to university president.
- 5b. University president’s decision is final.
3.8 Study-Research Leave
Study-research leave may be granted to faculty members for research and/or advanced study necessary to enhance the competencies of those faculty members to carry out their obligations to the university. (At other universities this program is often called “sabbatical.”)
Full-time tenured faculty members with the rank of associate professor or higher, having accrued a minimum of six years of service, are eligible for study-research leave. Following a period of study-research leave, an additional six years of full-time service are necessary before a faculty member is eligible for another leave. Requests may be submitted prior to completion of six years of service, but faculty members must have tenure and have completed the sixth year before the leave period begins. Tenure-track faculty members are not eligible to apply for study-research leave until after tenure has been awarded.
Time spent on study-research leave, educational leave, or leave without pay is not considered in compiling minimum service requirements for further leaves.
As part of the commonwealth’s educational leave program, recipients of study-research leaves are provided with partial salary (not to exceed one-half salary). Full employee benefits remain in force while faculty members are on study-research leaves. Calendar year faculty on study-research leave earn annual leave at a rate of half their usual annual leave earnings.
Instead of a proposal for leave of a full academic or calendar year, faculty members may propose a sequence of semester leave periods at half-salary over several years, not to exceed in total one academic year (for a faculty member on academic year appointment) or 12 months (for a faculty member on calendar year appointment). If such a sequence of leaves is undertaken, all intervening periods of full-time appointment at Virginia Tech accrue toward the six-year minimum service required before eligibility for another study-research leave or sequence of leaves.
Alternatively, following completion of any study-research leave, faculty members may propose a single semester of study-research leave at half-salary following three years of full-time service to the university.
Recipients of a study-research leave may receive additional compensation from other approved sources up to a total equal to their annual salary from the university. Faculty members may receive the additional half salary from sponsored grants or contracts, resulting in a one-year period at full salary from university sources; the appropriate level of effort must be expended on grant-related activities. They may also obtain additional funds from external sources to cover expenses for travel, research, administrative assistance, and the purchase of relevant materials. Documentation of all external earnings and expected payments is required and must be reviewed and approved by the department head and provost. Engagement in consulting activities must be consonant with existing university policy.
The request for study-research leave is made in the fall and, if approved, is taken the following academic year. Requests for study-research leave should be submitted to the department head or chair by November 1 for processing through the college, provost, and consideration by the Board of Visitors at the March (or spring) meeting of the board. Requests are forwarded to the board, subject to recommendation of the department head or chair, dean, and the provost, with consideration of the need for effective continuation of the department’s program. Specific leave request due dates are established annually and made available in the Calendar of Important Dates found on the provost’s website.
The faculty member must return to full-time service with the university for a minimum of at least one academic year at the end of the approved leave or repay the university the salary received plus interest. If less than this required period of service is met, repayment is required of the pro rata portion of the compensation provided by the university during the leave period. The faculty member, before undertaking the leave, must sign a memorandum of agreement to this effect.
Within 60 days of returning to full-time status, the faculty member must send a letter to the provost, dean, and department head summarizing his or her accomplishments.
3.9 Research Assignment
Research assignment is a special category of study-research leave that is awarded to a tenured academic faculty member for one semester of intensive study or research that increases the quality of the individual’s professional stature and future contributions to the university. It may be taken in lieu of an ordinary year-long study-research leave. Tenure-track faculty members are not eligible to apply for research assignment leave until after tenure has been awarded.
Full-time tenured faculty members with the rank of associate professor or higher, having accrued a minimum of six years of service, are eligible for research assignment leave. Following such a leave, an additional six years of full-time service is necessary before a faculty member may be considered for another research assignment. Requests may be submitted prior to completion of six years of service, but faculty members must have completed the sixth year before the leave period begins. Faculty members on calendar year appointments may take research assignment leave for up to six months.
Approval for research assignment provides the faculty member with full salary and related benefits for the period of the leave; faculty members may not take on additional responsibilities for outside income except as allowed by the university’s consulting policy. Modest stipends associated with competitive visiting scholar programs at other institutions, competitive national or international fellowships, the Fulbright Scholar Program, and similar prestigious opportunities to support study and/or scholarly research may be approved where there is clear benefit to the faculty member and the university. Similarly, externally funded reimbursements or allotments for travel, temporary relocation, and other expenses associated with the proposed research assignment may be approved. Documentation of all external earnings and expected payments is required and must be reviewed and approved by the department head and provost. When a faculty member proposes a period of paid employment greater than 50 percent of the annual salary in a corporate or governmental setting, leave without pay or a contract through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act may be more appropriate than a research assignment.
The primary privilege of a research assignment is entire relief from teaching and administrative duties for one semester. A secondary privilege is that the assignment may be carried out at any location approved by the dean, although research programs that require facilities, University Libraries resources, or collaborations not available at the university are given special consideration.
An application for research assignment should be submitted to the appropriate department head or chair by November 1 of the academic year preceding that in which the research assignment will be made. Application forms are available from the provost’s website. The application should be in the form of a letter, which includes a detailed description of the proposed research or other scholarly project, the location of that activity, and the relevance of the proposed activity in contributing to the faculty member’s own scholarly research program. The department head or chair reviews the application and forwards it with a recommendation to the college dean by mid-November indicating the provisions that will be made to accommodate the faculty member’s teaching and advising responsibilities. The dean is expected to weigh fiscal and academic load considerations to assure an equitable distribution of the awards. The dean forwards research assignment requests to the provost by mid-December. The provost reviews the recommendations, communicates with the deans, and announces the results to each candidate, following approval by the Board of Visitors. Specific leave request due dates are established annually and made available in the Calendar of Important Dates found on the provost’s website.
The faculty member must return to full-time service with the university for a minimum of at least one academic year at the end of the approved leave. If less than this required period of service is met, repayment is required of the pro rata portion of the compensation provided by the university during the leave period. The faculty member, before undertaking the leave, must sign a memorandum of agreement to this effect.
Within 60 days of returning to full-time status, the faculty member must send a letter to the provost, dean, and department head summarizing his or her accomplishments.
3.10 Modified Duties
The university recognizes the need for all tenured and tenure-track faculty members to balance the commitments of family and work. Special family circumstances, for example, birth or adoption of a child, severe illness of an immediate family member, or even issues of personal health, can cause substantial alterations to one’s daily routine, thus creating a need to construct a modified workload and flexible schedule for a period of time.
Since the circumstances may vary widely for faculty members at different stages of their careers and with different family and workload situations, this policy does not prescribe the exact nature of the accommodation. In many cases, it may be a reduction or elimination of a teaching assignment while the faculty member continues to meet ongoing, but more flexible research and graduate student supervision obligations. In general, the university’s commitment is to work with a faculty member to devise a modified workload and schedule that enables the faculty member to remain an active and productive member of the department. Because there is no reduction in salary, the faculty member is expected to have a set of full-time responsibilities.
An eligible faculty member is encouraged to speak with his or her department head or chair as soon as possible about the need for modified duties to ensure the maximum amount of time for planning. A department chair, in conjunction with the dean, is responsible for working with a faculty member to ensure a fair plan for modified duties is implemented if possible, budgetary constraints are considered, and student or other needs are met. The policy does not create an entitlement if there are legitimate business-related reasons for denying the request. Final decisions about the nature of the modified duties are the responsibility of the department head or chair in consultation with the dean.
Provisions of this policy cannot adequately address all individual circumstances. Sick leave (including disability), leave without pay, or permanent reduction in appointment to part-time status may be options to consider for longer-term or more demanding needs. This policy is not intended to provide release time from teaching for the purpose of allowing additional time for research. Reduction in teaching assignment for research purposes is the prerogative of the department and a function of the university’s program of study-research leaves.
Extension of the probationary period (see chapter three, “Extending the Tenure Clock”) is available to faculty members on tenure-track appointments who are confronted with extenuating personal or family circumstances, or birth or adoption of a child. The extension may be requested as a complement to a request for modified duties. However, the semester of modified duties does not automatically affect the tenure probationary period.
Eligibility: Modified duties may be requested by any faculty member in a full-time tenured or tenure-track appointment for the purpose of managing family responsibilities or, in exceptional cases, personal health issues not addressed by sick leave. The policy applies to eligible faculty upon employment.
Guidelines: The period of modified duties is one semester, or an equivalent amount of time for those faculty members whose responsibilities are not tied directly to teaching on the academic calendar.
Modification of duties should not result in additional duties during the subsequent semester, e.g., the faculty member should not be asked to make up the released teaching before or after the semester of modified duties. The faculty member cannot be employed by another institution during the period of modified duties, nor can the release time be used for extensive professional travel or other increased professional activities (including consulting) that do not meet the goals of the policy.
Medical documentation is required if the period of modified duties is requested related to a health issue not addressed by sick leave.
A semester of modified duties should be considered in addition to, not as a substitute for, sick leave and family leave available to those giving birth or adopting during the period of the appointment (i.e., during the academic year for those on academic year appointments, or any time for those on calendar year appointments). There are no work expectations for individuals on approved sick or family leave.
Requests for outside consulting during the period of modified duties are not usually approved.
A faculty member should submit a request for modified duties as early as possible so the department can plan appropriately. The request form is available on the provost’s website. The plan of proposed activities is developed in consultation with the department head or chair and the dean. The duties can be department-based, college-based, or a combination thereof.
Subject to available funding, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost provides an allotment to the faculty member’s unit to replace teaching (or to use in other ways relevant to the duties) that is lost through the granting of a term of modified duties. Additional support from departments and colleges is strongly encouraged, and should be noted in the request.
Approval of the department head or chair, dean, and provost are necessary. If the department head or chair does not support the request, the reasons for denial are provided in writing, and the request is automatically forwarded to the dean for further review.