Policy on Reduction in Force

Policy Memorandum No. 67

Recommended by the Commission on Faculty Affairs
Approved by University Council: December 2, 1985
Approved by the President: December 2, 1985
Approved by Board of Visitors: February 28, 1986
Effective: Immediately

During the past decade, some college and universities, because of financial constraints, have had to terminate employment of faculty members with tenured appointments or other contractual expectations, or have had to eliminate academic departments because of low enrollments and scarce resources. When these steps have been taken in the absence of decision processes which had faculty support, confusion and turmoil sometimes resulted. Institutions have been advised to adopt policies to meet these contingencies.

Although no such circumstances are anticipated at Virginia Tech, the Commission on Faculty Affairs has developed a revised policy on Reduction in Force, recognizing that such a policy can be established at a time when it is not imminently needed. The policy was endorsed by the Faculty Senate and approved by University Council and the Board of Visitors.

In presenting the policy, the CFA adopted a resolution observing that the present text of the FACULTY HANDBOOK, notably sections 2.9.4 (b) and (c), contain ambiguities and omissions and provide insufficient guidance to the University and its faculty in the event that implementation of a reduction in force should become necessary. The CFA resolution states that the policies and procedures of the University with regard to this matter should be clearly and explicitly delineated, and the policies and procedures "should preserve the the fullest extent permitted by the circumstances the presumption of continuous employment that tenure bestows, the contractual expectations of untenured faculty, and the integrity of the University and its programs."

The full policy will be published in the next edition of the FACULTY HANDBOOK. In addition, the full policy and the CFA resolution are being distributed at this time to deans' and departmental offices, where they will be available for review by interested faculty and staff.

CFA RESOLUTION 84-85 F

WHEREAS a circumstance may arise in which the University is confronted with the prospect of terminating the appointments of faculty for financial or programmatic reasons, and

WHEREAS the policies and procedures of the University with regard to such termination should be clearly and explicitly delineated, and

WHEREAS said policies and procedures should preserve to the fullest extent permitted by the circumstances the presumption of continuous employment that tenure bestows, the contractual expectations of untenured faculty, and the integrity of the University and its programs, and

WHEREAS the present text of the FACULTY HANDBOOK, notably sections 2.9.4 (b) and (c), contain ambiguities and omissions and provide insufficient guidance to the University and its faculty in the event implementation of a reduction in force should become necessary.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the following text should be substituted for section 2.9.4 of the FACULTY HANDBOOK with the exception that section 2.9.4. (a) as presently constituted should be retained without revision.

2.9.4 Termination

Termination refers to the involuntary cessation of employment of a tenured or continued-appointment faculty member (except for mandatory retirement) or of a faculty member on a fixed-term appointment before the end of the term. Termination will take place only as dismissal for adequate cause or in the case of a reduction in force.

Furlough refers to the involuntary interruption of employment of a tenured or continued-appointment faculty member or of a faculty member on a fixedterm appointment before the end of the term, and differs from termination in that it conveys an intention of the University to reappoint affected faculty members within some reasonable period of time should circumstances permit. Furlough may occur only in the case of a reduction in force.

A reduction in force (RIF) is the termination or interruption of employment of a member of the general faculty under conditions of financial exigency or program reduction. Reduction in personnel by attrition, freezes on new hiring, across-the-board reductions of salaries and/or teaching schedules, and the offering of incentives for early retirement, whether at the program level or institution-wide, are not considered reductions in force. Rather, they are lesser remedies that may be implemented prior to any reduction in force.

Denial of tenure to an untenured faculty member, nonrenewal of appointment of an untenured faculty member on probationary appointment, or nonrenewal of appointment of an untenured member of the administrative faculty, where normal procedures have been effected in each instance, is not considered a termination within the meaning of this policy.

For the purpose of the procedures outlined below, seniority refers to the number of years served at this University by a member of the general faculty in tenured, tenure-track or functionally equivalent positions. Service need not be continuous to contribute to an individual's seniority. Years of service include those during which a faculty member is employed at least half time. Years during which a faculty member is employed less than half time will not count toward years of service for purposes of this section.

(b) Reductions in Force under Conditions of Financial Exigency

Reductions in force may occur when financial conditions disallow the normal operation of programs. While the University has a right to initiate reductions in force, including those affecting tenured faculty, it is the policy of the University (to the extent consistent with the degree of financial exigency)

(a) to ensure that the rights of tenure are preserved,

(b) to ensure that the integrity of the University and its programs is preserved,

(c) to protect the contractual expectations of untenured faculty,

(d) to provide that the burden of corrective action is shared by the various categories of personnel of the University, including all members of the general faculty, and

(e) to ensure that any reductions that do occur follow an orderly and predictable process. A financial exigency is an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the University and that cannot be alleviated by ordinary budgeting practices. Reductions in force in response to conditions of financial exigency will be determined and implemented as follows:

  1. Declaration of a state of financial exigency. Should the President determine that so extraordinary a circumstance has arisen or is anticipated that it might be necessary to terminate or interrupt the appointments of faculty members, the President may declare a state of exigency. Upon such declaration, the President will form an AD HOC committee to review the budgetary situation and the President's proposed plan for dealing with it.

  2. Committee review. The AD HOC committee will be comprised of no fewer than nine members, a majority of whom will be faculty members nominated by the Faculty Senate. The committee will include at least one representative from each college. Where a RIF may affect the extracollegiate faculty, at least one representative from that faculty should also be selected to serve on the committee. Any person who resigns from, or must otherwise discontinue his or her service on, the committee will be replaced by a new member chosen in the same manner as was the individual being replaced, and such replacement members will be so selected that each college and, where appropriate, the extracollegiate faculty, will retain at least one representative. Within the constraints of time and circumstance, the committee will review the proposal submitted by the President and any alternative remedies that may be available, and will recommend to the President a plan of action that may incorporate reductions in force of the administrative and support staff as well as the general faculty. The committee will be charged with protecting both academic freedom and, insofar as circumstances permit, the presumption of continuous employment that tenure or continued appointment bestows, and will take into account as well the curricular needs and goals of the University and the effects of any anticipated actions on the future financial well-being of the institution.

  3. Determination of policy. After receiving the recommendations of the AD HOC committee, the President will determine the response of the University to the declared state of exigency. If the President's decision is substantially at variance with the recommendations of the committee with specific regard to the implementation of RIFs, the committee may, by majority vote, appeal the President's actions to the Board of Visitors. In all other matters, and in cases where the President's decision to implement a reduction in force accords with the recommendations of the AD HOC committee, no such appeal is available. The AD HOC committee will consult with the President and will receive periodic reports until such time as the state of exigency has ended and the committee determines that the obligations of the University to furloughed or terminated faculty have been met.

  4. Implementation. Reductions in force may be implemented either within specified programs or across the institution. Whenever a RIF is undertaken, it will be guided by the following considerations.

    1. Insofar as circumstances permit all temporary or part-time faculty members and those not holding tenured or tenure-track appointments or their functional equivalent will be retained through the thenexisting term of appointment.

    2. Insofar as circumstances permit, untenured faculty holding tenuretrack appointments and library and other faculty holding probationary appointments will be retained through the thenexisting term of appointment. No tenure-track or functionally equivalent appointment will be terminated or interrupted unless and until all appropriate temporary appointments have been terminated. Where reductions in force of these personnel are required, they will be implemented in ascending order of rank and of seniority within rank. Whenever possible, the University will provide notice of furlough or termination equivalent to that for non-appointment as set forth in section 2.9.3.

    3. Except in most extraordinary circumstances, all tenured faculty and those on continued appointment will retain their positions. Where reductions in force of tenured or continued-appointment personnel are required, they will be implemented in ascending order of rank and of seniority within rank. Whenever possible, the University will provide at least one year's notice of furlough or termination.

  5. Notification. The University will provide written notification to all faculty affected by a RIF including (a) a statement of the basis for its action, (b) a description of the manner in which the decision in question was reached, (c) a disclosure of the information and data on which the decision makers relied, and (d) information regarding procedures available for appealing the decision.

  6. Appeals. The decision to furlough or terminate a member of the general faculty because of a reduction in force may be appealed in two ways.

    1. The affected individual may appeal through the grievance procedure specified in section 2.10.

    2. After consulting with the appropriate Dean and an elected committee of faculty members from the affected program, the principal administrative officer of a program may appeal individual RIF decisions to the Provost on programmatic grounds. Reductions in force of no more than one-quarter of the affected faculty in any program may be appealed in this manner.

  7. Replacement and Reappointment. The University recognizes its obligation to reappoint personnel who have been furloughed or terminated through a RIF insofar as circumstances permit within a reasonable period following such action. Accordingly, no probationary term personnel who have been furloughed or terminated through a reduction in force will be replaced by temporary personnel for a period of three years following that action. Similarly, no tenured or continued-appointment personnel who have been furloughed or terminated through a reduction in force will be replaced by temporary or probationary-term personnel for a period of five years following that action. Rather, affected members of the general faculty will be granted first refusal of re-established positions for which they are qualified, with positions to be offered in descending order of rank and seniority within rank whenever the number of qualified personnel exceeds the number of available positions. The University will attempt to identify funds to enable the University to extend to affected faculty during these periods of three and five years, respectively, all health insurance benefits for which they would otherwise have qualified. Upon reaching age 70, or upon declining at least one offer of employment in a position equivalent in tenure status, salary, and teaching load (as adjusted to reflect post-RIF changes in his or her department) to that which was terminated, each faculty member who was affected by a reduction in force forfeits all protections afforded by this paragraph. For purposes of providing insurance benefits and implementing these reappointment procedures, the Provost will maintain a record of the curriculum vitae and current address of each terminated or furloughed faculty member. Terminated or furloughed faculty have an obligation to maintain the accuracy and timeliness of these records; the failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the protections afforded by this paragraph.

(c) Reduction in Force Associated with Discontinuance or Reorganization of Programs

The University may discontinue, reduce, or substantially reorganize a program for reasons other than financial exigency. When such an action is contemplated which may entail a reduction in force, the President will submit to University Council for referral to the appropriate commission(s) a proposal outlining the specific program changes that are anticipated, the rationale for undertaking them, and the effects of such changes on the status of all faculty then assigned to the program(s) in question. The statement will include an estimate of the probable disposition of tenured faculty in the aftermath of the changes. The commission(s) will make recommendations on the proposal to University Council, taking into account enrollment trends and the effects of the proposed action on related programs and on the total University curriculum. University Council will, in turn, make its own recommendations to the President.

When the recommendations of University Council have been received, the President will form an AD HOC committee in the same manner as in (b) above. The committee will review the President's proposal and the recommendations of University Council with particular attention to the rights, privileges and interests of the affected members of the general faculty, and will make its own recommendations to the President. The President will then determine the policy of the university. Once that policy is established, the report of the AD HOC committee will be published in SPECTRUM.

In the event that program changes necessitate the termination of faculty members, those in tenure-track or probationary positions will be retained at least through their then-current terms of appointment, and will be entitled to notice of termination equivalent to that for non-reappointment as specified in sections 2.9.3. In cases where terms of appointment expire and the requirements of notice permit termination in less than two academic years from the date of notice, the University will make every effort to extend to affected faculty from the date of termination to the second anniversary of the date of notice all health insurance benefits for which they would otherwise have qualified. Tenured and continued-appointment faculty will be retained for a period of five academic years, such period commencing with the first full academic year following notice of termination. Where programs are reduced or reorganized but where some faculty are retained, the rights of tenure and continued appointment will be preserved insofar as possible, and the termination of faculty will be implemented in ascending order of rank and of seniority within rank.

Notification of termination will follow the procedure specified in section 2.9.4 (b), part (5), above. Termination of employment as a result of actions covered by these procedures is subject to the grievance procedure specified in section 2.10.

The policy specified in this section applies only to program changes that affect the employment status of members of the general faculty.


President's Policy Memorandum

URL: http://purl.vt.edu/vtdocs/policies/ppm67