Severe Sanctions for Post-Tenure Review and Limitation of Period of Remediation

Policy Memorandum No. 179

Approved by Commission on Faculty Affairs: April 16, 1997
First Reading by University Council: April 22, 1997
Approved by University Council: May 5, 1997
Approved by President: May 5, 1997
Approved by BOV: August 25, 1997
Effective Date: August 25, 1997

The University Council, on recommendation of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, unanimously approved a resolution concerning severe sanctions for post-tenure review and limitation of period of remediation.

Following is the text of the resolution as adopted by University Council.

WHEREAS, the Post-Tenure Review (PTR) policy (section 2.9.4 of the Faculty Handbook) approved by the university community and the Board of Visitors in spring 1996 identified remediation, imposition of a severe sanction, and dismissal for cause as the possible outcomes in cases where the PTR committee found serious deficiencies in performance; and,

WHEREAS, the Commission on Faculty Affairs identified the need for additional language defining severe sanctions, but postponed such consideration until this fall when there was time to fully considered appropriate language and its location in the Faculty Handbook; and,

WHEREAS, the Commission on Faculty Affairs now recommends that such language be contained in the PTR policy itself, within the section referring to sanctions other than dismissal;

WHEREAS, in addition, the State Council for Higher Education has recommended that institutions specify the period of remediation in the case of post-tenure;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the post-tenure review policy be revised as follows: a) the period of remediation be limited to not more than two years; and b) the following text in bold be added to section 2.b. (Sanction Other Than Dismissal) of the policy on Post-Tenure Review (section 2.9.4 of the Faculty Handbook):

2.b. Sanction other than dismissal for cause:

A severe sanction generally involves a significant loss or penalty to a faculty member, such as but not limited to demotion in rank and/or a reduction in salary, or suspension without pay for a period not to exceed one year. Routine personnel actions such as a recommendation for a below-average or no merit increase, conversion from a calendar-year to an academic-year appointment, reassignment, removal of an administrative stipend, or verbal or written reprimand do not constitute a severe sanction within the meaning of this policy.

A departmental recommendation to impose a severe sanction shall be referred to the college-level promotion and tenure (P&T) committee, which shall review the case as presented to the departmental committee, provide an opportunity for the faculty member to be heard, and determine that 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 will guide the process. An abbreviated summary of those steps is provided below for clarification and, except for the waiving of step 2 in the case of a post-tenure review, this summary is not intended to either alter or supersede provisions of section 2.11.1. The full record of the case shall be forwarded to the decision-maker or committee at each step of appeal requested by the faculty member. The Board of Visitors will be informed of recommendations proposed at earlier steps if they differ from the President's final recommendation.

In brief, the steps used to impose and/or appeal a severe sanction as stated in section 2.11.1 are:

1. Provost: Discussion among faculty member, head, dean, and Provost are held looking toward mutual settlement. The Provost may uphold, reject, or modify the sanction recommended by the college-level P&T committee. If the faculty member and Provost reach agreement, the process is complete. The Board of Visitors approves any severe sanction to be imposed. If agreement is not reached, the process proceeds to step 3 below.

[2. Ad hoc or standing committee: The reviews conducted by the departmental and college-level committees satisfy the requirement in step 2 of section 2.11.1 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.]

3. President: The President provides a written statement of charges and notifies the faculty member of the University's intent to sanction. If the faculty member accepts imposition of the sanction at this point, the President will submit the recommended action to the Board of Visitors for approval.

4. Hearing Committee: The faculty member may request a formal hearing. Five panel members are chosen from among nine nominations made by the Faculty Senate President. Hearing rules are specified in section 2.11.1. The hearing committee makes its recommendation in writing to the President and the faculty member.

5. President: The President may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation made by the hearing committee. If the President rejects the recommendation, the hearing committee and the faculty member will be so informed and given an opportunity to respond.

6. Board of Visitors: If the President decides to impose a sanction, the faculty member may request that the full record of the case be submitted to the Board. Written or oral arguments by principals will be presented. If the recommendation of the hearing committee is not sustained, it is sent back to the committee with specific objections and a request to reconsider. The Board makes the final decision following reconsideration by the hearing committee.

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 would be counted as the first in any future sequence.

(end of proposed revisions concerning severe sanctions)

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Complete Section of Faculty Handbook on Post-Tenure Review with Proposed Revisions Incorporated:

2.9.4 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 2.11.1, 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 or continued appointment receives two consecutive annual evaluations of Unsatisfactory performance. Annual reviews for years spent on leave without pay shall be disregarded for the purpose of this calculation. The review will be conducted by the departmental promotion and tenure committee, unless the same committee was involved in the original Unsatisfactory annual evaluations. In this case, the department shall elect 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 mission and priorities.

The faculty member has the both the right and the obligation to provide a dossier with all documents, materials, and statements he or she believes to be relevant and necessary for the review. Ordinarily, such a dossier would include at least the following: an up-to-date 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 will be given a period of no less than four weeks to assemble the dossier for the committee. The head or chair will supply the review committee with the last two annual evaluations, all materials which were considered in those evaluations, any further materials deemed relevant, and other materials the committee requests. Copies of all materials supplied to the committee will be 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 will weigh the faculty member's contributions to the discipline, the department, and the University through teaching, research, and service. The burden of proving Unsatisfactory performance is on the university. The committee will prepare summary of its findings and make 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:

1. 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 head or chair's assessment. The review is then complete. An Unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year would be counted as the first in any future sequence.

2. 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.

a. Remediation -- If a period of remediation is recommended, the committee specifies in detail the deficiencies it has noted, defines specific goals and measurable outcomes the faculty member should achieve, and establishes a timeline for meeting the goals. The head or chair will meet with the faculty member at least twice annually to review the individual's progress. The head or chair will prepare a summary report for the committee following each meeting and at the end of the specified remediation period, at which time the committee will either certify satisfactory performance or recommend dismissal for cause or a sanction other than dismissal for cause following the procedures described above.

b. Sanction other than dismissal for cause:

A severe sanction generally involves a significant loss or penalty to a faculty member, such as but not limited to demotion in rank and/or a reduction in salary, or suspension without pay for a period not to exceed one year. Routine personnel actions such as a recommendation for a below-average or no merit increase, conversion from a calendar-year to an academic-year appointment, reassignment, removal of an administrative stipend, or verbal or written reprimand do not constitute a severe sanction within the meaning of this policy.

A departmental recommendation to impose a severe sanction shall be referred to the college-level promotion and tenure (P&T) committee, which shall review the case as presented to the departmental committee, provide an opportunity for the faculty member to be heard, and determine that 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 will guide the process. An abbreviated summary of those steps is provided below for clarification and, except for the waiving of step 2 in the case of a post-tenure review, this summary is not intended to either alter or supersede provisions of section 2.11.1. The full record of the case shall be forwarded to the decision-maker or committee at each step of appeal requested by the faculty member. The Board of Visitors will be informed of recommendations proposed at earlier steps if they differ from the President's final recommendation.

In brief, the steps used to impose and/or appeal a severe sanction as stated in section 2.11.1 are:

1. Provost: Discussion among faculty member, head, dean, and Provost are held looking toward mutual settlement. The Provost may uphold, reject, or modify the sanction recommended by the college-level P&T committee. If the faculty member and Provost reach agreement, the process is complete. The Board of Visitors approves any severe sanction to be imposed. If agreement is not reached, the process proceeds to step 3 below.

[2. Ad hoc or standing committee: The reviews conducted by the departmental and college-level committees satisfy the requirement in step 2 of section 2.11.1 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.]

3. President: The President provides a written statement of charges and notifies the faculty member of the University's intent to sanction. If the faculty member accepts imposition of the sanction at this point, the President will submit the recommended action to the Board of Visitors for approval.

4. Hearing Committee: The faculty member may request a formal hearing. Five panel members are chosen from among nine nominations made by the Faculty Senate President. Hearing rules are specified in section 2.11.1. The hearing committee makes its recommendation in writing to the President and the faculty member.

5. President: The President may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation made by the hearing committee. If the President rejects the recommendation, the hearing committee and the faculty member will be so informed and given an opportunity to respond.

6. Board of Visitors: If the President decides to impose a sanction, the faculty member may request that the full record of the case be submitted to the Board. Written or oral arguments by principals will be presented. If the recommendation of the hearing committee is not sustained, it is sent back to the committee with specific objections and a request to reconsider. The Board makes the final decision following reconsideration by the hearing committee.

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 would be counted as the first in any future sequence.

c. Dismissal for cause -- If dismissal for cause is recommended, the case shall be referred to the college-level promotion and tenure committee, which shall review the case as presented to the departmental committee and determine whether the recommendation is consistent with the evidence. If the college-level committee upholds the recommendation for dismissal, then the procedures specified in section 2.11.1 of theFaculty Handbook will begin immediately. The committee review satisfies the requirement in section 2.11.1 for an informal inquiry by a standing personnel committee. If the President decides to proceed with dismissal, the faculty member shall be provided a statement of charges and notification of a right to a formal hearing in accordance with section 2.11.1.

PET:sws


President's Policy Memorandum

URL: http://purl.vt.edu/vtdocs/policies/ppm179