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
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.
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:
(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