Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

Academic Calendars Agendas & Minutes CommitteesFaculty Policy Guide Honorary Degrees Senate/SEC Schedule Senate Meeting Videos Senate Members Senator Guide

February 14, 2000


University Statutes and Senate Procedures
(Information;First Reading)

SP.97.06 Amendments to the Statutes Article IX Proposing a New Section 11 Re: Definition of Cause, a New Section 12 Re: Progressive Response, a New Section 13 Re: Sanctions, and a New Section 14 Re: Dismissal for Cause

While working on SP.94.02, Proposed Statutory Changes Re: Terms of Employment Amendment to Article X, the Senate Committee on University Statutes and Senate Procedures (USSP) originally recommended language that would have given coverage to academic professional staff. Based on discussion at the First Reading of SP.94.02 on April 7, 1997, this coverage was dropped and the phrase "academic staff member" was changed to "faculty member" throughout the document. While working on SP.00.06, Multi-Year Contracts for Full-Time Non-Tenured Academic Staff, USSP again encountered the need for an amendment to the Statutes concerning dismissal of academic staff for cause. Section 14 of the following is modeled upon Article X, Section 1d and e (dismissal of tenured faculty) and discusses dismissal of academic and administrative staff for cause. Section 13 of the following is modeled upon SP.94.02 (sanctions other than dismissal of tenured faculty). The intent is to cover all academic staff positions authorized in Article IX, Sections 3c and 4a (academic, administrative and professional staff), except for those described under Article X, Section 1a (tenure track faculty). Early drafts of this document have been circulating within the Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) and the University Professional Personnel Advisory Committee (UPPAC) for several years. Development of the current draft has been done in consultation with PAC, and the PAC liaison to USSP has been actively involved.

The Senate Committee on University Statutes and Senate Procedures recommends approval of the following revisions to the Statutes.

New Sections 11. Definition of Cause

"Cause" is defined as one or more acts or omissions which, singly or in the aggregate, are sufficient to interfere with the orderly and efficient operation of any part of the University. This may include off-duty behavior or extramural conduct if it is found that such behavior clearly and convincingly demonstrates that the staff member can no longer be relied upon to perform university duties and functions.

12. Progressive Response

a. Progressive Response is a process designed to identify and correct employee performance problems and behaviors that affect or interfere with the performance of others or with the orderly and efficient operation of the University. This is the process that will generally be followed.

b. The Progressive Response includes the following steps:

1. Counseling and/or Verbal Warning 2. Written Warning and/or Reprimand 3. Sanction(s) 4. Dismissal

c. The Response taken depends on all of the facts and circumstances available at the time the Response is made. Any step may be repeated, omitted, or taken out of sequence. Each case is considered on an individual basis.

Progressive Response requires clear and direct communication between the academic staff member and the supervisor. This communication should include a meeting between the academic staff member and supervisor to discuss the problem, how it affects the University and what steps should be taken to correct the problem. There should also be a defined time established in which the academic staff member will work on correcting the problem in order to avoid a more serious Progressive Response. After the meeting, the employee shall receive a written summary of the meeting.

13. Sanctions

a. Sanctions other than dismissal for cause shall be one or more of the following: (1) restitution or other forms of compensation to the University for damages to, destruction of, or misappropriation of university property or services, or (2) suspension without salary or at reduced salary for a period not to exceed one half of the academic staff member's appointment period, but with continued health and retirement benefits as provided by law.

b. Sanctions other than dismissal for cause may be imposed on an academic staff member as part of a Progressive Response provided the same procedures as those enumerated in Article IX, Section 14b and c are followed, except that the process ends if at any point in the proceedings the academic staff member and the chancellor both elect to accept in writing specific sanctions or counseling or other rehabilitation of the academic staff member, or if the chancellor drops the charges.

c. The procedures of this Section 13 will be initiated only after discussions are held between the academic staff member and appropriate administrative officers looking toward a mutual settlement which can include possible remedial actions. The initiation or pendency of proceedings under this Section 13 shall not be deemed to prevent or delay the University or any other person from pursuing any other remedy available to such person against the academic staff member for conduct allegedly violating subsection d below.

d. Cause for sanctions includes but is not limited to the following: (1) engaging in professional misconduct in the performance of university duties or academic activities, (2) neglecting or refusing to perform reasonable assigned academic or administrative duties, (3) violating approved campus or university written regulations or policies related to conduct of academic or administrative duties, (4) acting outside the appropriate exercise of university responsibilities so as willfully to physically harm, threaten physical harm to, harass or intimidate a visitor or member of the university community with the effect of interfering with that member's performance of university duties or academic or administrative activities, (5) willfully damaging, destroying or misappropriating property owned by the University or any property used in connection with a university function or approved activity, or (6) conviction in a court of law for a felony that is clearly related to the performance of university duties or academic activities.

e. Detailed policies on related matters, such as academic integrity, conflict of interest, discrimination, evaluation of fitness to work, and workplace violence, may be established and amended through appropriate governance and consultation procedures, to include as a minimum consultation with the Senate(s) and/or the University Senates Conference. Imposition of sanctions for an alleged violation of any such University or individual campus policy shall be determined under this section. However, the findings of fact made in these prior proceedings shall be presumed to have been established subject to rebuttal on grounds inter alia of the thoroughness and fairness of the proceeding giving rise to them.

14. Dismissal for Cause

a. An academic staff member, as defined in Article IX, Sections 3c and 4a, except for those faculty members who are tenured or are receiving probationary credit toward tenure as described under Article X, Section 1a, may be dismissed during the term of an employment contract for cause as defined in Article IX, Section 11. Dismissal may be part of a Progressive Response or result from one or more serious infractions that require an immediate dismissal. Serious infractions include but are not limited to those outlined in Article IX, Section 13, but that are so serious in nature as to clearly and convincingly demonstrate that the staff member can no longer be relied upon to perform university duties and functions.

b. Prior to dismissal (or sanction(s) other than dismissal), an academic staff member shall be entitled to a written notice of reason(s) for the potential dismissal, shall have an opportunity for a hearing, and shall have the right to appeal a dismissal decision to a higher administrative level. Appeals to the chancellor (or president, as appropriate) shall be limited to procedural issues only (e.g. whether the procedural requirements of this policy were properly followed and applied).

c. Proceedings seeking dismissal for cause (or sanction(s) other than dismissal) shall comply with the following procedures: Throughout these proceedings, the president and vice president for academic affairs shall serve in place of the chancellor and the provost for academic staff members of the university administration. The "unit executive officer" is ordinarily head, chair or director of the academic or administrative unit in which the employee works. The chancellor (or president) may extend any time limits in this policy for good reason.

(1) If it appears that cause for dismissal of an academic staff member exists, the unit executive officer shall ascertain the relevant facts. The academic staff member shall be offered the opportunity to meet with the unit executive officer. At the meeting, the unit executive officer shall explain the reasons for the proceedings, and the academic staff member shall have the opportunity to present any relevant information or explanation. The academic staff member may be accompanied by an adviser of choice at the meeting.

(2) Following an investigation, the unit executive officer shall consult with the dean or equivalent major unit head. If the conclusion is that there are sufficient grounds to recommend dismissal, the dean or equivalent major unit head shall so notify the provost. After review and concurrence by the provost, the academic staff member shall be given a written notice of the proposed dismissal. The provost shall notify the Professional Advisory Committee of such proposed dismissal.

The written notice of proposed dismissal shall include a statement of the charge(s) against the academic staff member and a summary of the factual circumstances giving rise to such charges; it should also include documents, if any, that demonstrate the basis for the charges and a copy of Article IX, Section 11, Definition of Cause, and Section 14, Dismissal for Cause. The notice shall state that the academic staff member shall have the right to a hearing on the charges. The written notice shall be served upon the academic staff member either (i) personally or (ii) by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the academic staff member. If a written request for a hearing is not delivered to the unit executive officer within 10 working days following service of the charges (or date of mailing if not deliverable), the right to a hearing is waived and the academic staff member shall be dismissed, effective the day following the academic staff member's last day to respond.

(3) If the academic staff member submits a written request for a hearing to the unit executive officer, such request shall be forwarded to the provost, who shall designate an impartial three-member hearing panel including a designated chair. If the staff member is a member of the academic professional staff, the hearing panel shall include at least two members of the academic professional staff. If the provost is the unit executive officer, then the appointment of the panel members shall be made by the chancellor. No member of the panel shall be employed in the same department as the academic staff member for whom dismissal is proposed. The academic staff member may challenge the inclusion of any member by providing written reasons for the challenge to the provost. The provost (or chancellor) shall have the final decision concerning whether or not to replace the challenged panel member. The hearing panel shall schedule a hearing within 30 calendar days following receipt of the request for a hearing. The timeliness contained in these procedures, except for the request for a hearing or appeal, may be extended when mutually agreeable to both parties or when necessitated by scheduling problems.

The academic staff member may have an adviser of choice at the hearing. The university official (or representative) who is recommending dismissal shall have the burden of proceeding first and presenting witnesses and documentary evidence in support of the charges. The academic staff member shall have the right to question any witnesses called by the official. At the conclusion of the official's presentation, the academic staff member may call witnesses and present documentary evidence to rebut the recommendation of dismissal. The official shall have the right to question academic staff member witnesses.

Following these presentations the hearing panel may question witnesses further and request other information as needed. The hearing panel is not bound by the formal rules of evidence. A verbatim record shall be made of the hearing. The official who is recommending dismissal and the academic staff member shall have the right to submit a written statement summarizing the evidence and arguments favoring or opposing dismissal of the academic staff member within 7 working days following the end of the hearing. The hearing panel shall also be responsible for preparing a record of the hearing, which shall include the names and roles of the people in attendance at the hearing, a copy of all materials presented as exhibits, and a copy of any written statement submitted by parties in support of their positions, and the hearing panel's findings and recommendations. If a grievance relating to the dismissal was filed with the Professional Advisory Committee, the report of that Committee concerning the case shall be made part of the record of the hearing panel with the understanding that doing so will not delay the processes contained in this policy.

The hearing panel shall forward written findings of fact and recommendations for dismissal or retention to the provost within 15 working days following conclusion of the hearing. The provost shall then make the final decision concerning dismissal or retention and communicate this to the official and the academic staff member. The decision shall be based solely on the evidence and arguments presented to the hearing panel and its evaluation thereof. The written decision of the provost shall include a summary of the relevant facts and reasons supporting the decision.

(4) An academic staff member may be suspended by the provost with pay during investigation concerning a possible dismissal, while a dismissal proceeding is pending, or while an appeal is proceeding, if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the University, following notice to the employee and the opportunity for a meeting with a designated university official. An academic staff member who is suspended shall be given prior written notice of pay and benefit status during the duration of the suspension.

(5) The academic staff member shall have the right to appeal a decision ordering dismissal to the chancellor. Such appeal must be made to the chancellor within 7 working days following issuance of the decision, with a copy to the hearing officer, the unit executive officer, the dean and the provost. The decision to dismiss an academic staff member will be effective following the academic staff member's last day to appeal unless the academic staff member submits an appeal.

The scope of appeal shall be limited to any alleged violations of these procedures. The academic staff member shall have 7 working days following submission of the notice of appeal to submit to the chancellor a statement of specific grounds and reasons for the appeal, and shall submit copies to the provost, the unit executive officer, and the hearing panel. No new evidence may be presented at this level. The hearing panel, official recommending dismissal, or other department representatives shall be permitted to submit a response within 7 working days. Thereafter, the chancellor or designee shall prepare within 15 working days a written decision affirming, reversing, or remanding the hearing panel's recommendation for specific findings. If the hearing panel's recommendation for dismissal is approved, the dismissal will be effective immediately without further administrative review.

(6) The hearing and appeal procedures under this policy are the only university procedures available to an academic staff member who is dismissed for cause.

Robert Fossum, Chair
Humza Durrani
H. George Friedman
Harry H. Hilton
John Kindt
Amit Mathur
Julian Palmore
Robert C. Damrau, ex officio
Thomas M. Eakman, Observer
C. K. Gunsalus, ex officio (designee)
Vera V. Mainz (PAC Liaison)