4.51 Dismissal for Cause

Adequate cause for dismissal must be directly and substantially related to the fitness of faculty members in their professional capacity as teachers or scholars. Dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights under US law.

Dismissal of a faculty member with continuous tenure, or with a tenure-track appointment before the end of the specified term, must be preceded by:

1. discussions between the faculty member and appropriate administrative officers looking toward a mutual settlement;

2. a written statement of complaint, framed with reasonable particularity by the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s delegate, and a written statement of complaint from the individual or individuals who are parties to the complaint, having been submitted to the concerned faculty member and to the AFTPE Committee;

3. an informal inquiry by the AFTPE Committee which, failing to effect an adjustment, will determine whether, in its opinion, dismissal proceedings should be undertaken, without its opinion being binding upon the Chancellor.

A dismissal for cause meeting the requirements above will be preceded by a formal statement of charges, and the faculty member concerned will have the right to be heard initially by a hearing panel selected by the AFTPE Committee in accord with procedures approved by the Senate February 21, 1973 (Section 4.6).

Hearing panel members will remove themselves from the case, either at the request of a party or on their own initiative, if they deem themselves disqualified for bias or interest. Each party will have a maximum of two challenges without stated cause. Replacements for disqualified members will be selected by the remaining members of the hearing panel.

Service of notice of hearing with specific charges in writing must be made at least 20 days prior to the hearing. Faculty members may waive a hearing or may respond to the charges in writing at any time before the hearing. If faculty waive a hearing but deny the charges against them or assert that the charges do not support a finding of adequate cause, the hearing panel will evaluate all available evidence and rest its recommendation upon the evidence in the record.

The hearing panel will inquire of the individuals whether the hearing will be open or closed and must abide by their preference.

During the proceedings, the individuals will be permitted to have an academic advisor and counsel of their own choice.

At the request of either party or the hearing panel, a representative of a responsible educational association will be permitted to attend the proceedings as an observer.

A verbatim record of the hearing or hearings will be taken, and a transcribed copy will be made available to individuals without cost to them, at their request.

The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the University by a preponderance of all relevant evidence.

The hearing panel will grant adjournments to enable either party to investigate evidence to which a valid claim of surprise is made.

The individuals will be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence, and the University administration will, insofar as it is possible for it to do so, secure the cooperation of such witnesses and make available necessary documents and other evidence within its control.

Faculty members and the University administration have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. Where witnesses cannot or will not appear, but the hearing committee determines that the interests of justice require admission of their statements, the committee will identify these witnesses, disclose their statements, and, if possible, provide for interrogatories.

In the hearing of charges of incompetence, the testimony will include that of qualified faculty members.

The hearing panel will not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence and may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every possible effort will be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available.

The findings of fact and the decision will be based solely on the hearing record.

Except for such simple announcements as may be required, covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, public statements and publicity about the case by either the faculty members or administrative officers will be avoided so far as possible until the proceedings, including consideration by the Board of Trustees, have been completed. The Chancellor and the faculty members will be notified of the decision in writing.

If the hearing panel concludes that adequate cause for dismissal has not been established by the evidence in the record, it will so report to the Chancellor. If the Chancellor rejects the report, the Chancellor’s statement of reasons for doing so and the findings which justify rejection will be set forth in writing. The Chancellor will submit this report to the hearing panel and to the faculty member and provide an opportunity for response before transmitting the case to the Board of Trustees. If the hearing panel concludes that adequate cause for dismissal has been established but that an academic penalty less than dismissal would be more appropriate, it will so recommend, with supporting reasons. A suspension which is intended to be final is a dismissal and will be dealt with as such.

If dismissal or other penalty is recommended, the faculty member may request the Chancellor to transmit the record of the case to the Board of Trustees. The Board’s review will be based on the record of the hearing panel and will provide opportunity for argument, oral, written, or both, by the principals at the hearing or by their representatives. Either the decision of the hearing panel will be sustained, or the proceeding will be returned to the hearing panel with specific objections. The hearing panel will then reconsider, taking into account the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary. The Board of Trustees will make the final decision only after study of the hearing panel’s reconsideration.

Until final decisions upon termination of appointments have been reached, faculty members may be suspended with salary or assigned to other duties in lieu of suspension pending a final disposition of the case only if immediate harm to themselves or others is threatened by their continuance. Before suspending faculty members, pending an ultimate determination of their status, the administration will consult with the AFTPE Committee.

If tenure-track appointments are terminated, faculty members will receive their salary to the termination date specified under Section 2.39. In the case of tenured faculty members, the salary will be paid to the specified termination date, which will not be less than one year from the date of notice. This provision for terminal salary need not apply if there has been a finding that the conduct which justified dismissal involved moral turpitude. The Board of Trustees, on the recommendation of the hearing panel and the Chancellor in determining what, if any, payments will be made beyond the effective date of dismissal, may take into account the length and quality of service of faculty members.

Updated April 17, 2024