1. State Board of Higher Education policy governs termination for non-renewal, termination, or dismissal of faculty. In all cases, SBHE policy prevails in the event of a conflict with VCSU policy.
2. State Board of Higher Education policy distinguishes between three categories of faculty for purposes of policies relating to termination, nonrenewal, and dismissal.
- a. Probationary appointments, which include all tenure track faculty who are not on special appointment.
- Procedures for terminating or non-renewing probationary faculty are found in SBHE policy 605.3.1 (termination without cause) or in SBHE 605.3.2 (termination for institutional reasons).
- Avenues of redress for terminated probationary faculty are outlined in SBHE policy 605.3.1.b and 605.3.4, with further information available in SBHE policy 605.5 and VCSU policy V605.5. A further level of appeal is available within 20 days after notice of results from mediation or reconsideration through a hearing under VCSU policy V605.4.
- b. Special appointments are not probationary appointments, and terminate at the end of the term stated on the contract. Special appointments include all adjunct faculty and faculty with set-term appointments.
- A special appointment terminates at the end of the term stated on the contract and may be renewed at the discretion of the institution.
- Avenues of redress for terminated special faculty are outlined in SBHE policy 605.3.3 and 605.3.4, with further information available in SBHE policy 605.5 and VCSU policy V605.5. A further level of appeal is available within 20 days after notice of results from mediation or reconsideration through a hearing under VCSU policy V605.4.
- c. Tenured appointments recognize a right, subject to Board policy, to continuous academic year employment in an academic unit or program area as defined by the administration and stated on the contract. The purpose of tenure is to assure academic freedom.
- Procedures for terminating tenured faculty are found in SBHE policy 605.3.8 (termination for adequate cause) or SBHE policy 605.3.6 (termination for institutional reasons).
- The avenue of redress for tenured faculty is found in SBHE policy 605.4 and VCSU policy V605.4 (termination for adequate cause) or SBHE policy 605.3.6.c and V605.3.4. (termination for institutional reasons).
- d. Sanction of a faculty member may be imposed in accordance with SBHE policy 605.3.9. If the sanction is imposed following a hearing by the Standing Committee on Faculty Rights and based on that hearing record, there is no redress. Otherwise, the avenue of redress for sanction is SBHE policy 605.4 and VCSU policy V605.4.
- e. Faculty termination of own appointment is addressed in SBHE 605.3.5. At VCSU, a faculty member must give written notice of his/her intent to his/her division chair at the earliest possible opportunity but not later than May 15 or one month after receiving written notification from the VCSU administration of the terms of an appointment for the coming academic year, whichever date comes later. A faculty member may request a waiver of this deadline in case of hardship or for other causes.
3. The administration will solicit faculty participation in accordance with SBHE 605.3.7 when tenured faculty members may be terminated for institutional reasons.
- a. Annually, within the first four weeks following the first full day of classes of the fall semester, the following offices shall present the following material to the Senate in a meeting to be called by the Vice President for Business Affairs:
- i. Vice President for Business Affairs: summary of institutional revenues and major expenses from the past year, the current year, and general outlook of both for the coming year.
- ii. Registrar: trends and significant changes in institutional and program enrollment data during the recent past and current year
- iii. Divisions and administration: Information concerning any intended institutional reorganization, consolidation of academic units or program areas, and elimination of courses.
- iv. Additional clarification of information will be provided as needed.
- b. At its option, Senate shall hold a special meeting(s) one week following the dissemination of this material, devoting as much time as necessary to review the information, consulting appropriate institutional personnel as needed.
- c. Following the special Senate meeting(s) described above, the President will report to the Faculty Senate, which in these instances shall include the Vice President for Academic Affairs, on the potential for involuntary faculty terminations as part of the budget process for the next academic year. If some potential exists, the President will continue to meet with the Faculty Senate monthly, or more frequently if necessary, until the budget is final or the potential for involuntary termination no longer exists. As specified in SBHE policy 605.3.7, the intent of these meetings is to develop conclusions and make recommendations to the President as appropriate concerning the following issues:
- i. The extent to which there are grounds for termination of tenured appointments.
- ii. Where within the overall academic program termination of appointments may occur.
- iii. The procedure and criteria for identifying the individuals whose appointments may be terminated
- d. The identification of individual faculty member(s) for termination shall be made by the President. Before making a final decision, the President shall confer and solicit further information as needed with the appropriate division chair or equivalent of the unit involved. The President shall also meet with the affected divisional faculty members as a group if requested.
4. Within twenty days of receiving notice of intent to terminate, a tenured faculty member who is terminated for institutional reasons may request a hearing, with the Standing Committee on Faculty Rights by filing a written notice, accompanied by a specification of the reasons or the grounds upon which the request is based, with the Committee chair or senior member of the Committee and the institution's president.
- The request for review may only be based on allegations that the institution failed to comply with applicable policies (including V605.3) or gave the decision inadequate consideration, or that the decision violated (a) academic freedom, (b) rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, or (c) terms of the employment contract or other written agreement. The allegation must be supported by a specification of the reasons why the decision violated these rights and a summary of the evidence supporting the allegation(s). The institution shall, within twenty calendar days of receipt of the written notice and specifications, provide a written response to the faculty member and the chair of the Standing Committee on Faculty Rights.
- The Committee will appoint, at the expense of the institution according to institution procedures, a hearing officer with authority to conduct pre-hearing meetings, supervise discovery, advise the Committee or preside over the hearing. The faculty member, the institution and their representatives shall comply with all reasonable directives and requests of the hearing officer appointed by the Committee. The institution shall provide necessary clerical support for the Committee and, upon request, for the hearing officer.
- The Committee or the hearing officer shall hold a pre-hearing meeting or meetings in order to (a) simplify the issues, (b) effect stipulations of facts, (c) provide for the exchange of documentary or other information, or (d) achieve such other appropriate pre-hearing objectives as will make the hearing fair, effective, and expeditious. The faculty member, the institution and their representatives shall participate in pre-hearing meetings upon request and comply with the directives of the Committee or the hearing officer.
- The Committee or the hearing officer shall serve written notice of hearing on the faculty member and the president or their representatives at least twenty calendar days prior to the hearing.
- The faculty member and the institution may stipulate to a decision on the basis of the written statements, in which case the Committee shall make its decision on that basis.
- During the proceedings the institution and the faculty member are entitled to have an administrative or academic advisor and counsel of their own choice and at their own expense. Proceedings concerning the appointment or removal of a faculty member may, pursuant to N.D.C.C. section 15-10-17, be closed, unless the faculty member requests that the proceedings be open in which case the proceedings shall be open.
- A verbatim transcript of the hearing or hearings shall be made at the institution's expense, and shall be accessible to both parties. A party shall be provided a copy of the record, or part of the record, upon request, at the institution's expense.
- The findings of fact, conclusions and the decision shall be based solely on the evidence received by the Committee. In cases involving allegations that the institution violated the faculty member's rights, the faculty member has the burden of persuasion to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the action violated the faculty member's rights. In cases involving allegations of failure to comply with institutional policies or give adequate consideration, the burden of proof that grounds for the institution's action exist shall rest with the institution and be satisfied only by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole.
- The Committee may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues or if the interests of justice will best be served by admitting the evidence. Every reasonable effort shall be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available. The Committee shall grant adjournments to enable either party to investigate evidence as to which a valid claim of surprise is made.
- The faculty member shall be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence. The institution shall cooperate with the Committee in securing witnesses and making available documentary and other evidence. The faculty member and the institution shall have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. Testimony may be taken by deposition, including deposition by telephone, or witnesses may testify by telephone, facsimile, video or other electronic means, as long as such use does not substantially prejudice the rights of any party. Affidavits may be received into evidence upon stipulation of the parties.
- The Committee's findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations, with supporting reasons, shall be reported, in writing, to the institution's president and the faculty member or the faculty member's representative. The president shall make a decision and provide written notice of the decision, including findings of fact and reasons or conclusions based on the hearing record, to the Committee and the faculty member within twenty calendar days of receiving the report. The faculty member or Committee may, within ten calendar days of the decision, submit a written response to the decision, to which the president may reply.
- The decision of the president is final.
Reviewed: Winter 1996
Revised: Fall 2005
Reviewed by Faculty Senate: Winter 2006
Revised: Winter 2006
Developed with significant faculty input (n.b., Crawford, Klingenstein, Levy) and Faculty Senate deliberation.