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Faculty Personnel Policies

B6   Disciplinary Measures and Dismissal for Cause

  1. Grounds for Discipline

    A faculty member may be subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal, for adequate cause.  Hope College defines adequate cause for dismissal to be academic irresponsibility, incompetence, or moral turpitude in faculty members' professional capacities as teachers, researchers, and artists.  Discipline will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom (see B12).

  2. Disciplinary Sanctions Other than Dismissal

    If the administration receives a complaint about a faculty member’s conduct that could subject that faculty member to discipline, the Provost or his/her representative must investigate that complaint promptly. This investigation may begin informally with conversation (documented if appropriate) between the Provost and the faculty member prior to a full and careful investigation that could lead to a sanction. If the Provost deems further investigation necessary, the faculty member should be notified of the investigation and be given an opportunity to respond to the charges and to suggest further avenues of inquiry. After full and careful investigation and within a reasonable time, normally no more than thirty (30) days, the administration, in consultation with the faculty member, may find the charges unfounded, may give an official reprimand, may impose disciplinary sanctions, or may initiate dismissal proceedings (see B6.d.).

    Sanctions that could be imposed include financial restitution, requirement that the faculty member obtain appropriate medical or psychological treatment, suspension from some or all of a faculty member’s duties for a slated period of time (up to one year), or any other action that causes the faculty member to incur a penalty or loss of measureable value. The sanctions must be in writing and will be retained in the employee’s personnel file in the Human Resources Office.

    Disciplinary sanctions other than dismissal may also result from processes undertaken pursuant to the Sexual Harassment Policy (see section B15) or the Grievance Policy (see B22.)

  3. Suspension

    As a sanction, suspension for a stated period of time may be the end result of an investigation by administration or faculty committee.
    Suspension may also be imposed by the Provost as an interim measure before the completion of an administrative investigation or dismissal proceedings.  This action may be taken only if immediate harm (whether physical, psychological, educational, or financial) to the faculty member or to others is threatened by his/her continuance.
    The Provost's decision to use suspension as an interim measure should be made in consultation with the faculty member's chairperson, the relevant divisional dean, the chairperson of the Professional Interests Committee, and the President with regard to the propriety, length, and conditions of the suspension.  Suspension as an interim measure requires that the administrative investigation and/or dismissal proceedings be completed in a timely manner, and unless legal considerations forbid, any such suspension should be with pay.

  4. Dismissal Proceedings

    1. Preliminary steps

      Initiation of dismissal proceedings will be preceded by the following sequential steps:

      1. Discussions between the faculty member, the Provost, and the relevant divisional dean, with a view toward achieving a mutual settlement;

      2. Informal inquiry, for a maximum period of thirty (30) days, by representatives of the Professional Interests Committee either to help mediate the situation or to determine the advisability of initiating dismissal proceedings, without their opinion binding the Provost;

      3. Written notification of dismissal, together with charges, framed with a reasonable degree of particularity by the Provost or the Provost's representative.  The letter of notification will indicate the date, not less than twenty (20) nor more than thirty (30) days away, when a hearing has been scheduled.

    2. The Hearing Committee

      After receiving the written notification of dismissal, the faculty member will have the right to have the case considered by a hearing committee of elected faculty drawn from the Appeals and Grievance Panel (see A6.f).  Panel members deeming themselves disqualified for bias or interest will remove themselves from the case, either at the request of a party or on their own initiative.  The chair of the Panel will then draw up a roster of nine (9) members available to serve on the committee.  Each party, the faculty member and the administration, may remove from the roster a maximum of two names without stated cause.  From the names that remain, the chair of the Panel will appoint a hearing committee of five (5), which shall elect its own chairperson.
      There must be more than one academic division and both genders represented on the committee.  If the names remaining on the roster after peremptory removals do not permit these restrictions to be observed, the chairperson will negotiate with the faculty member and the administration for an enlarged roster so that they can be observed.
      The committee will be in full charge of the hearing process.  In consultation with both parties and in accordance with this Handbook, it has the power to determine how the hearing will proceed, what evidence will be taken and how it will be received, and how it will go about reaching a decision.  Strict rules of courtroom procedure need not apply, but the committee should seek to ensure a full and fair hearing for both parties.

    3. Before the Hearing

      1. The committee may reschedule the hearing at the request of either party or on its own initiative, provided both parties agree to another date within the 30-day limit stated in B6.d1c).
      2. The committee will ensure that both parties have access to the information necessary to support their cases, including witnesses and documents.  The administration will cooperate with the committee in making such information available.  With the consent of both parties, the committee may hold joint pre-hearing meetings with both parties to provide for the exchange of documents and other information, determine the issues to be covered at the hearing, decide how the witnesses will be heard, and resolve any other matters necessary to ensure that the hearing is fair, effective, and expeditious.
      3. The faculty member may respond to charges in writing at any time before the hearing, with copies furnished to the hearing committee and the administration.
      4. If the faculty member waives the right to appear at the hearing but denies the charges or asserts that the charges are not adequate cause for dismissal, the hearing committee will evaluate all the available evidence and rest its findings on that evidence.

    4. The Hearing

      1. The hearing will be closed and its proceedings will be confidential.  An audio recording will be made of the proceedings, and a copy or a transcription of the recording will be furnished to either party upon request.

      2. The faculty member and the administration each may choose to have an advocate present.  This will be another member of the faculty or administration who would assist in the presentation of the case.  Both sides will have opportunity to present witnesses, to introduce documentary evidence, to question the other side's witnesses, and to make oral and written arguments based on the evidence to the hearing committee.  In the hearing of charges of incompetence, the testimony will include that of qualified faculty members from this or other institutions of higher education.  The committee will grant adjournments to enable either party to investigate evidence of which it claims, and the committee members concur, that it had no previous notice.

    5. The Decision

      The hearing committee may conclude a) that adequate cause for discipline has not been established by the evidence in the record, b) that adequate cause for discipline has been established but that sanctions specified by the committee are more appropriate than dismissal, or c) that dismissal is justified.  The committee must base its decision on the evidence introduced in the hearing record.  The administration must persuade the committee that the evidence presented justifies disciplinary action.  The hearing committee will submit its report to the President with a copy to the faculty member.

    6. Action by the President

      Upon receipt and review of the recommendations of the hearing committee, the President has the following courses of action from which to choose:

      1. If the hearing committee decides that there is not adequate cause for disciplinary action of any sort and if the President agrees, the case is concluded

      2. If the hearing committee decides that disciplinary action short of dismissal is appropriate and if the President agrees, the recommended sanctions are imposed and the case is concluded.

      3. If the hearing committee and the President agree that dismissal is justified and if the faculty member accepts the judgment, the dismissal is effected and the case is concluded.

      4. If the President disagrees with the hearing committee's recommendation, his/her reasons will be stated in writing to the hearing committee and to the faculty member, who will have opportunity to respond before the President takes further action.

      5. If the hearing committee and the President agree that dismissal is justified but the faculty member contests the decision, or if the President continues to disagree with the hearing committee's recommendation after providing the committee and faculty member opportunity to respond to the President's reasons, the President will transmit the hearing committee's report to a committee of the Board of Trustees appointed ad hoc, together with his/her recommendation and the record of the case.

    7. Action by the Board of Trustees

      If the President refers the case to an ad hoc committee of the Board of Trustees, the committee will base its review on the documents transmitted to it, and it will provide opportunity for argument, written and/or oral, by the principals in the case or by their representatives.  If the decision of the hearing committee is sustained, the recommendation will be forwarded to the full Board of Trustees for final decision.  If the decision of the hearing committee is not sustained, the case will be returned to the hearing committee with specific objections.  The hearing committee will then reconsider the case, taking into account the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary.  The ad hoc committee of the Board will make its final recommendation to the Board of Trustees only after study of the hearing committee's reconsideration.  Only then will the Board make the final decision.

    8. Publicity

      Public statements and publicity about the case by either the faculty member or administrative officers will be avoided as far as possible until the proceedings have been completed, including consideration by the Board of Trustees.  Any news release to the public should be made through the President's office.

    9. Continuance of salary

      If a faculty member is dismissed for cause, his/her annual contracted salary is paid over twelve months from the date of the letter of notification (see B6.d1c)) or until the conclusion of his/her duties at the College, whichever is later; except that if the notification of dismissal occurs during the faculty member's first year of service, the minimum commitment for continuance is 25% of the annual contracted salary paid over three months, and if during the second year, 50% of the annual contracted salary paid over six months.  During the period over which salary is continued, the College shall not be liable for payment of unemployment compensation.  Provision for continuance of salary need not apply if adequate cause for dismissal included a finding of moral turpitude.

    10. Disposition of records
    11. The official record of the hearing, 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.