Search the Handbook
Faculty and Unclassified Staff Handbook Chapter 1 -- General Policies
Faculty Hearings and Appeals Procedures
General Faculty Hearing and Appeal Procedure
In accordance with the principles of administration and due process and in order to ensure prompt determination of contested decisions and fair play to all concerned, the following options are available to disaffected faculty members (faculty defined as all individuals holding academic rank of instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor) for a redress of grievances involving academic freedom, termination of employment or termination related to financial exigency. It is important to recognize that these options do not apply to issues of sexual harassment, discrimination/harassment on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, physical or mental disability, merit evaluation, tenure and promotion decisions, non-tenured appointees or program and unit discontinuance. There are specific due process and grievance procedures associated with each of these latter issue-areas (see Faculty and Unclassified Staff Handbook index for listing).¹
The hearing and appeal process provided to address an area or issue not already assigned to a specific grievance process includes the following procedures:
1. There is an established tradition of informal appeal at FHSU and this informal procedure shall be maintained. The aggrieved faculty member has the right of an informal effort at mediation with his or her departmental chairperson; and if unsuccessful at this level, the faculty member has the right of an informal effort at mediation with the dean of his or her respective school.
Since an open door policy has been maintained at all administrative levels, the aggrieved faculty member also has the right of informal appeal to the provost and to the president. This right shall not be infringed upon. Should the informal procedures fail to satisfactorily resolve the grievance, the grievant shall contact the Chairperson or any member of the University Affairs Committee to initiate the formal grievance procedure.
2. A request for a formal hearing based on an appeal in writing, initiated within sixty (60) days from the date of receiving written notification of the fact(s) constituting the grievance, will commence the proceedings. The written request will state the issue(s) and the reasons for appealing. It shall be dated and signed by the appealing faculty member and delivered to the appropriate department chairperson with a copy to the appropriate dean.² No later than ten (10) working days from the receipt of the written request for such hearing, the department chairperson shall set a time, date, and place agreeable to both parties for a formal departmental hearing before a committee composed of at least three faculty from that department, notify the appealing faculty member, hereinafter referred to as "grievant," in writing of the time and place agreed upon, the names of the faculty comprising the departmental hearing committee, and the procedural rules of the committee.² A mechanical/electronic record of the departmental hearing will be made and a transcription will be made if it is so ordered by the chairperson of the departmental hearing committee.
A decision in the form of a recommendation shall be made within seven (7) working days following the departmental hearing; and the decision containing findings of fact, conclusions, and a recommendation will be reduced to writing and delivered to all concerned parties with a copy to the department chairperson and the appropriate dean.² The dean within ten (10) working days will notify the grievant in writing of his or her decision. The grievant may accept the decision of the dean; and in that instance, the appeal procedure is completed.
Under normal circumstances in a grievance procedure at the departmental level, legal counsel is not considered appropriate or necessary to such a proceeding. The purpose of this departmental hearing is fact-finding, to give the grievant an opportunity to present orally and by written documentation to the departmental hearing committee in a non-adversary atmosphere a total evidentiary statement, any new evidence, additional cumulative evidence, or interpretation of existing materials previously presented in support of the grievant's position so that the committee may consider corrective action by recommendation to the dean based upon all the facts.
A grievant who decides that support, advice, or counsel is needed during the departmental committee hearing, may have an attorney in fact (any personal advisor) or an attorney at law present to advise and counsel. Under the rules of the departmental hearing committee, the advisor's role and function is limited to advising the grievant. The advisor may not make any statement or argument to the hearing committee, but may communicate freely and completely with the grievant to advise him or her and have all necessary time to do so.
On rare occasion, if both the grievant and the department hearing committee agree that there are no issues, evidentiary matters, or evidentiary interpretations that have not been fully and completely explored by all parties, that no useful purpose would be served in illuminating the dispute, the grievant and departmental hearing committee may in writing notify the appropriate dean² and Chairperson of the University Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate that both parties agree to waive the departmental hearing.
3. If the departmental hearing committee does not support the faculty member, or if it does support the faculty member and the dean² does not concur in the committee's decision and the grievant does not acquiesce in the decision of the dean,² he or she may commence within thirty (30) days an appeal to the University Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate for a formal hearing and procedure before a University Appeals Committee.
To institute the formal hearing at the University level, the grievant shall in writing notify the Chair or any member of the University Affairs Committee that he or she seeks a formal hearing. The notification shall state in writing the reason(s) for the appeal and the issue(s) to be determined by the University Appeals Committee. Upon receipt of such written notification, the Chair or any member of the University Affairs Committee shall call a meeting of the University Affairs Committee within ten (10) working days of the receipt of said notification, for the purpose of selecting a panel of five (5) tenured faculty members and two (2) alternates to hear the appeal. The faculty selected for the panel shall be notified in writing of their appointment to the University Appeals Committee within one working day of said appointment. The University Affairs Committee shall designate one of the panel as Chair Pro Tem.
The Chair Pro Tem of the University Appeals Committee shall call a meeting of the University Appeals Committee within ten (10) working days of the transmittal of the written notification of appointment. At this meeting the Chair Pro Tem shall discuss with the members of the committee any potential conflicts of interest with either the grievant or the respondent, bias, or possibility of being called as a witness. The University Appeals Committee shall then (1) select a permanent chair; (2) review the rules and procedures for conducting the appeal process and hearing; (3) review the written notification document to evaluate the degree of complexity of the issue or issues; (4) develop a schedule of dates and deadlines for the appellate procedure; and (5) notify all parties in writing of the times and dates established for the appellate procedure and the outline of procedural rules.
When the University Appeals Committee considers appeals of the nature of severe sanction or the dismissal of a tenured faculty member, it shall establish detailed and explicit procedural safeguards in substantial conformity with the section titled, "Dismissal Procedures," in the most recent edition of the American Association of University Professors Policy Documents and Reports.
If the University Appeals Committee is to consider an appeal of the nature that will not result in the severe sanction or the dismissal of a tenured faculty member, the University Appeals Committee shall follow the following procedural guidelines for conducting the appellate process.
a. After the University Appeals Committee has had time to review the formal letter of appeal supplied by the grievant, the committee shall outline the issues or points of contention in the appeal.
b. This outline of issues and questions of a relevant fact-finding nature shall be sent in writing to the parties involved in the appeal hearing.
c. Each party shall respond in writing to the committee's outline of issues, indicating their opinion on the restatement, clarification, inclusion or exclusion of the issues outlined. Likewise each party shall respond to any fact-finding questions propounded by the committee. These responses are to be returned to the committee within ten (10) working days of the receipt of said documentation.
d. If all issues can be resolved without formal hearing, the Chair of the University Appeals Committee shall transmit this fact to the president of the University within ten (10) days of a resolution of the appeal.
If the issues of the appeal cannot be mediated by the University Appeals Committee, then the matter will move to formal hearing. A formal hearing shall be scheduled within thirty (30) working days of the return of the responses of the parties to the outline of issues and questions. This schedule can be adjusted at any point in the process with the consent of all of the parties.
The appeal hearing shall be informal and closed to the public. The presence of legal counsel is discouraged. If, however, one party intends to have legal counsel present, that party must notify the University Appeals Committee within twenty-four (24) hours of the announcement of the date for the formal hearing, allowing the other parties time to acquire counsel if they so choose. If legal counsel is present, legal counsel shall be allowed only an advisory role and may not participate directly in the hearing.
At least twenty (20) days before the date of the appeals hearing, all parties shall submit to the University Appeals Committee a list of all witnesses that the parties intend to give testimony at the hearing and the nature of the testimony. These lists of potential witnesses shall be exchanged among the parties by the Chair of the University Appeals Committee.
The University Appeals Committee shall meet within two (2) working days of the adjournment of the appeals hearing to make a determination of the issues as outlined in the appeal. A written determination of the University Appeals Committee including the findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendation(s) shall be transmitted to the president of the University within ten (10) working days of the adjournment of the appeals hearing. A copy of this written determination shall also be transmitted to all of the parties on the same date as the transmittal to the president of the University. The University Appeals Committee acts only in an advisory capacity to the president of the University. Any findings, determination or recommendations made by the University Affairs Committee are not binding on the president of the University or the parties to the appeal.
4. Unless prevented from so doing by reasonable absence from the campus, the president of the University shall, not later than ten (10) working days from the receipt of the University Appeals Committee recommendation(s), notify the University Appeals Committee and all other concerned parties in writing of his/her concurrence with the University Appeals Committee recommendation(s). If the president does not concur with any or all of the University Appeals Committee recommendation(s), the president shall within a reasonable time submit a detailed statement in writing of the compelling reasons for the non-concurrence to the University Appeals Committee. The University Appeals Committee shall reply to the counter-arguments presented by the president within ten (10) working days and the president shall then within five (5) working days make a final decision and notify all concerned parties including the University Appeals Committee of his/her final decision in writing.
5. In the event that the final decision is adverse to the interest of the affected faculty member, and if the appeal is of the nature of severe sanctions or dismissal, the grievant may wish to pursue other non-university avenues.
6. In order to avail himself or herself of the formal grievance procedures set forth above, the grievant must, at the departmental hearing level, file his or her written statement initiating the proceedings with the departmental chairperson, with a copy to the appropriate dean,² within sixty (60) days from the date of receiving written notification of the fact(s) constituting the grievance.
In order to utilize the formal grievance procedure set forth above, a grievant must at the University appeal level, file a written statement initiating the proceedings with the Chairperson of the University Affairs Committee within thirty (30) days from the date he or she received the written decision from the appropriate dean.²
Approved by President Edward H. Hammond (04-06-95).
Non-tenured Appointment Hearings and Appeals Procedures
This procedure is developed in the recognition that difficulties between employers and employees will occasionally arise. Any non-tenure appointee shall have these recourses available when affected by University policy, action, or by an individual within the University. Resolving these matters quickly and as closely as possible to their occurrence is in the best interests of all concerned. It is important to recognize that these options do not apply to issues of sexual harassment, discrimination/harassment on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, physical or mental disability, merit evaluation, tenure and promotion decisions, non-tenured appointees or program and unit discontinuance. There are specific due process and grievance procedures associated with each of these latter issue-areas (see Faculty and Unclassified Staff Handbook index for listing).¹
Since an open door policy has been maintained at all administrative levels, each employee has the right of informal appeal to his or her immediate superior and to the appropriate vice president.
If the matter is not resolved to the employee's satisfaction through informal discussion, the employee may proceed to the formal grievance stage by presenting the grievance in writing to the immediate supervisor. If the grievance is with the faculty member’s immediate supervisor, the aggrieved faculty member may contact the next administrative level. The grievance must be presented to the immediate supervisor within 45 days of its occurrence. The supervisor or Equal Employment Opportunity Officer will have two (2) working days in which to supply the employee with an answer in writing.
If the employee is not satisfied with the answer from the immediate supervisor, he or she may take the grievance to the appropriate vice president if that person is not the immediate supervisor. The grievance must be presented in writing within five (5) working days from the time the answer was given or due by the immediate supervisor. The vice president will have seven (7) working days in which to provide the employee an answer in writing. In either situation, if the employee is not satisfied with the answer received from the vice president, he or she may take the grievance to the president. The grievance must be presented within seven (7) days from the time the answer was given or due by the vice president. The president shall, within seven (7) working days after receiving the grievance, appoint a committee of three (3) persons to hear the grievance and shall set the date for the hearing. All concerned parties shall be notified in writing concerning the hearing, date, and location. Members of the advisory committee shall be employees of the University, and their selection shall be based on the objective of providing a fair and impartial hearing. The grievance committee shall consider such evidence as may be offered by the employee and supervisor.
A report of the findings of fact and recommended settlement of the grievance shall be forwarded by the grievance committee to the president within seven (7) working days after the hearing. All parties involved in the matter shall be informed in writing within five (5) working days of the president's decision. A copy of the committee report and the president's decision shall be placed in the personnel file of the employee.
¹See Chapter III for Procedures for Hearings and Appeals specifically related to tenure and promotion.
²In the event that the department is unable to produce a three-member departmental hearing committee or the grievant is a department chairperson, then the request for a formal departmental hearing will be filed with the dean and a copy delivered to the provost. The dean will then supplement those faculty members from the grievant's department willing and able to serve on a departmental hearing committee with members from other departments within the appropriate school to serve as a three-member formal hearing committee in lieu of a departmental hearing committee.
Revised and approved by Cabinet (06-30-93).
Back to Chapter 1