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Commission considers severe-sanction policy

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 12 - November 14, 1996

(Article prepared from draft of meeting minutes.)

At the October 23 meeting, the Commission on Research reviewed the Commission on Faculty Affairs' severe-sanctions policy and approved revisions to the centers' review policy.

Pat Hyer introduced the severe-sanctions policy to the membership for their input on how it will affect the research and administrative faculty. She stated the policy is needed to have a bridge between a letter in the file and dismissal for cause. She said there is a wide gap and that needs to be remedied.

Hyer said not all the possible sanctions were defined in the policy. She went over all the sections in the policy and suggested it would go in the Research Faculty Handbook along with the sections describing removal for just cause.

Delbert Jones asked why the policy could not be written with more specific guidelines. Mark Smith asked about a peer-review committee. Hyer responded that a severe sanction could conceivably be charged without going through a peer-review committee.

Ken Reifsnider mentioned his concern with privacy issues. Bonham Richardson stated his concern over faculty morale with some of the language that is written into the policy.

Hyer said she needs to add to the policy, at the request of the CFA, how to convey that the policy will not be invoked for some trivial reason.

Mike McGilliard said he would want a severe sanction to be covered in either the Faculty Senate Ethics Committee, by the Scholarly Misconduct Policy, the Sexual Harassment Policy, Internal Audit, or Post Tenure Review.

Gene Brown said there is a certain amount of protection for the individual faculty member in the proceedings of the existing disciplinary pathways that would be missing if charges were brought through the current draft of the severe-sanctions policy.

Hyer suggested another possibility might be to require a departmental personnel committee to review the evidence and support the department head's recommendation before it gets forwarded.

Reifsnider suggested adding a statement like "under normal conditions these will be heard from the previous five avenues (EOAA, Ethical Misconduct, Post Tenure Review, Scholarly Misconduct, or Internal Audit) and only in exceptional circumstances will the severe-sanctions policy be considered."

Smith summarized that the commission's concern is the mechanism for peer review when one of the five disciplinary pathways is not implemented. In such cases, perhaps the personnel committee or P&T committee would be appropriate. He said wording to that effect may be helpful.

McGilliard said perhaps the five disciplinary pathways may not be quite enough. However, far fewer cases may be outside these areas compared with potential abuses which may result from a department head unilaterally applying a severe sanction. He said while review is possible at the grievance stage of the process, it seems to be at a relatively late point in the application of the severe-sanctions policy.

In other business, revisions to center-review policy included changing "Associate Provost For Research" to read "Associate Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies" and "the Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies" was changed to "the Commission on Research." Mention of a small operating budget being a normal allocation to a center was removed since it is not a normal allocation to a center.

The review committee will nominally consist of three faculty members, a department head, an associate dean for research, and a member of the Commission on Research.

Anne McNabb said a request for reauthorization in the same manner and format as for initial establishment has not been done in the past. Reifsnider said SCHEV requires a reauthorization policy. The commission members agreed on the wording: "If reauthorization is recommended by the review committee, it must include a request for reauthorization in the same manner and format as for initial establishment."