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Faculty Personnel Policies

B22  Appeals and Grievances

  1. Purpose

    The Appeal and Grievance processes have as their aims:

    1. To uphold principles of equity and academic freedom;

    2. To bring the case to prompt and final resolution;

    3. To achieve mutual understanding through patient consideration of facts, careful weighing of all evidence, and scrupulous attention to the rights and duties of the concerned parties;

    4. To promote an atmosphere of mutual confidence in the college community;

    5. To enable review and improvements of policies and practices.

  2. Appeals

    1. Definition: An appeal is a formal procedure which is the last administrative channel in cases of tenure and promotion. The full process consists of two stages: 1) A faculty member who has been denied tenure or promotion by the Status Committee or higher authority may request a review of the decision by the Status Committee: 2) if the faculty member is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, s/he may appeal the decision.

    2. Grounds for review:  A request for review may be based on any one or more of the following grounds or allegations:

      1. Discrepancy between stated criteria, the evidence presented and the reasons given for the decision;
      2. Failure to follow established procedures;
      3. New evidence to refute the reasons given for denial;
      4. Violation of academic freedom; or
      5. Illegal discrimination.

    3. Grounds for appeal:  An appeal may be based on any one or more of the grounds or allegations for review, and the following:

      1. Improper handling of the review, such as the failure to follow published guidelines or procedures or the prejudicial conduct of the review.

      2. Lack of adequate consideration, based on an apparent lack of reasonable congruence between the evidence and the decision;

    4. Process:

      1. Review

        1. Once the faculty member has received from the Provost the written reasons for denial of tenure or promotion, s/he may ask for a meeting with the Provost to request elaboration on these reasons.

        2. A request for review, stating the grounds on which the request is based, should be submitted to the Provost within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving written notification of the Status Committee's recommendation; tenure candidates may be given a ten-day extension upon request.

        3. The Provost notifies the President and the Status Committee that the request has been submitted and sets up a meeting of the Status Committee with the dissatisfied faculty member. This meeting and any additional meetings that may be necessary shall be governed by the procedures listed in subsection b5 below.

        4. Within twenty (20) calendar days of the request for review, the review must be completed and written notification of the Status Committee's decision be given by the Provost to the faculty member, with copies to the President, divisional dean, and chairperson. If additional time is needed to allow both sides to deal with new considerations that arise in the course of the review, this deadline may be extended so long as the total time for steps b) through d) is not more than fifty (50) days from initial notification, or sixty (60) days in the case of tenure candidates.

      2. Appeal

        1. Within ten (10) days of notification of the results of the review, a faculty member who chooses to appeal this decision shall file an appeal with the chairperson of the Appeals and Grievances Panel (see A6.f), stating grounds, with copies to the Provost and the President.

        2. The chairperson of the Appeals and Grievances Panel will draw up a list of panel members available to serve on an ad hoc appeal committee, excluding any who would face a conflict of interest and excluding if possible those already serving on a committee in either an appeal or grievance process. From this list the chairperson will present a roster of six possible committee members to the appellant and the Provost, offering each the opportunity to request removal of one name from the roster without stating reasons. From the remaining names on the list, the chairperson then appoints the committee of three (3), who will select their own chairperson. At least one member of the committee must be a former member of the Status Committee. There may not be more than one representative from any single academic division nor only one gender represented on the committee.

        3. All relevant material will be given to the named Appeal Committee, including copies of the reasons given the faculty for the initial negative decision, copies of all materials initially submitted to the Status Committee by the dean and chairperson, any new material presented during the review, the written notification of the outcome of the review, and the grounds for appeal with all supporting documents from the faculty member.

        4. For meetings of the Appeal Committee, a quorum shall consist of all members of the committee.

        5. The Appeal Committee will schedule a hearing with the appellant. The hearing will be conducted in accord with established principles, such as the calling of witnesses at the discretion of the Appeal Committee, with the Appeal Committee having authority to determine precise procedures, including time limits.

        6. Whenever the Appeal Committee deems it advisable to interview the Status Committee, the entire Status Committee shall be invited to attend. Members may be questioned individually, at the discretion of the Appeal Committee, in the presence of at least two other members of the Status Committee, including the chairperson.

        7. The Appeal Committee may conclude that the appeal is not sustained and no further action is required; or that the recommendation of the Status Committee should be reconsidered, because of irregularity, impropriety, or inadequate consideration. By April 15 the committee will report its findings and conclusions to the President, with copies to the appellant and the Provost.

        8. If the Appeal Committee sustains the appeal, the President may (1) ask the Status Committee to repeat the decision-making process and submit its recommendation to him/her, or (2) overrule the Status Committee (notifying the Status Committee of this action with reasons) and submit the faculty member's name to Board of Trustees for confirming action, or (3) reject the conclusions of the Appeal Committee (notifying it, with reasons).

        9. The President will notify the appellant and the Provost of his/her decision.

    5. Procedural Rules

      1. In both the review and appeal stages, the faculty member shall have these rights:

        1. Access to documents (except confidential letters);
        2. To be accompanied by a faculty colleague as advisor in both review and appeal hearings;
        3. Due process including the right to speak, submit material, ask relevant questions and receive answers; and the right of the accompanying advisor to do so on his/her behalf, subject to the respective committee's responsibility to ensure that the proceedings continue in an orderly fashion.

      2. The burden of proof rests with the faculty member, not with the College.

  3. Grievances

    1. Definition:  A grievance is a formal petition for redress on any matter of professional concern which has not been resolved through administrative channels, except those listed as subject to appeal (B22.b1) and those provided for under Nonreappointment (B5) and Dismissal for Cause (B6.d).

    2. Process:

      1. Before filing a formal petition, the aggrieved faculty member may go to the Professional Interests Committee and/or the Faculty Moderator for advice on whether to file a formal grievance and on the best procedure for doing so.

      2. A written grievance should be filed with the chairperson of the Appeals and Grievances Panel, containing:

        1. A brief statement of the grievance, enumerating the separate points if necessary, and naming the person(s) against whom the grievance is directed;

        2. Supplementary materials, including the grievant's explanation of the perceived injustice and a brief history of attempts to solve the problem.

      3. The chairperson of the Appeals and Grievances Panel will form, from the Panel, a two-person Mediation Committee to make inquiry and attempt through informal means to bring about a settlement satisfactory to all. Any member of the Panel who is either directly involved in the case or has a conflict of interest will at this point disqualify him/herself from serving on this committee or on the Grievance Committee described below. The person(s) against whom the grievance has been filed shall be notified promptly by the Mediation Committee of the charges brought by the grievant. The Mediation Committee will report to the Panel chair the results of its efforts.

      4. If the matter has not been resolved, and if within fifteen (15) days of the Mediation Committee's report the Mediation Committee and the grievant agree that the grievance process should be continued, the chairperson forms a Grievance Committee, secures from the Mediation Committee a written report of its work, and notifies the chairperson of the Professional Interests Committee (in summary form, protecting confidentiality) of these steps being taken. In the event that the grievant requests that the grievance process be continued, despite a contrary recommendation of the Mediation Committee, the chair of the Panel may form a Grievance Committee only after full consultation with the Mediation Committee. The three-person Grievance Committee is selected in the same manner as an Appeal Committee (see B22.b4b)2), excluding the members of the Mediation Committee and the chair of the Panel.

      5. If more than one faculty member files a grievance at approximately the same time on the same problem or similar problems, the chair of the Panel may propose to combine them into a single grievance to be handled by a single Mediation Committee and a single Grievance Committee, provided all parties (grievants, person[s] against whom the grievance was filed, and committee) agree.

      6. The Grievance Committee shall be charged with (1) ascertaining the facts of the case and drawing it to a conclusion; (2) making a report to the President, which may include recommendation of action(s) and/or of reprimand or censure; and (3) when it deems advisable, recommending to the Professional Interests Committee or other appropriate body, or to an administrator, such changes in policy or practice as might prevent similar problems from occurring. A draft of its report(s) should be reviewed by the Panel chairperson for advice (especially as regards continuity and consistency with the approaches taken by other similar committees). The committee will then report its recommendations to the President, with copies to both parties to the complaint, to the PIC chair, and to the Panel chair for the Panel's archives.

      7. The Grievance Committee and both parties will strive to complete the process expeditiously. Under normal circumstances, thirty (30) days should suffice.

      8. The President should act promptly on the committee's recommendations. If the President rejects any of the Grievance Committee's recommendations, he/she will so inform them, providing reasons for his/her decision and providing an opportunity for the committee to respond, before taking action.

    3. Procedural rules

      1. Timely notice of the formal filing of a grievance will be given by the chairperson of the Appeals and Grievances Panel to the person(s) against whom the grievance was filed.  Such notice will include the specific point(s) of the grievance.

      2. Once appointed, the Grievance Committee will be in full charge of the entire process. Strict rules of courtroom procedure need not apply. The Grievance Committee shall designate one of its members as its chairperson, with responsibility and authority to call and preside at meetings, maintaining order and fairness.

      3. All parties will have an opportunity to be heard and to present their position on the matter. The Grievance Committee may interview any other persons, as it may deem advisable. Subject to the approval of the Grievance Committee, the parties have the right to present evidence, both in written form and through the use of witnesses. Both parties will cooperate with the Grievance Committee in obtaining evidence, including relevant documents and testimony.

      4. If a grievance is filed against the Status Committee, the entire Status Committee shall be invited to attend any meeting of the Grievance Committee called for the purpose of interviewing the Status Committee. Members may be questioned individually, at the discretion of the Grievance Committee, in the presence of at least two other members of the Status Committee, including the chairperson.

      5. For meetings of the Grievance Committee, a quorum shall consist of all members of the committee.

      6. The burden of proof rests with the grievant.

      7. The hearings of the Grievance Committee will be private and strict rules of confidentiality will be maintained. Each party has the right to be accompanied at hearings by a faculty colleague as advisor and observer. The Grievance Committee will ensure that a careful and complete record of the proceedings is kept.

  4. Official Records

    The official record of each Appeal or Grievance Committee, which is to be kept in the President's Office until all processes have been completed, will consist of the following:

    1. All written materials received from the administration, the faculty member, and any other parties seen to be appropriate by the committee;
    2. A copy of the Committee's recommendations;
    3. A log of the Committee's actions, including times of meeting, documents received, and a record of parties with whom the Committee or its members conversed.

    At the discretion of the President, following the completion of all processes, the records will be transferred to the Archives, where they will remain under seal, with access limited to the President, the Provost, or their designees.