Termination of Non-Tenured Faculty and Appeal of Tenure Denial Decision

     No. 9-17     Rev. 03-16-10  Date 7-18-85

 

I. REFERENCE

PPM 9-20, Security at Weber State University Hearings

II. POLICY

A. Non-tenured faculty members have all of the professional rights and responsibilities described in PPMs 9-2 through 9-8, except that they do not possess tenure in any form. Prior to being awarded tenure by the University, a non-tenured faculty member may be terminated with or without cause at the sole discretion of the University. "Cause," as defined in PPM 9-16, Termination for Other Cause or Change in Status, includes violation of the responsibilities stated in this code (PPMs 9-2 through 9-8), medical incapacity, financial exigency or bona fide discontinuance of a program, service unit or department of instruction.

B. If, as a result of the sixth year tenure review, a non-tenured faculty member is denied tenure by the provost, the non-tenured faculty member may appeal this decision to the Faculty Board of Review on any of the grounds listed below:

1. The decision was arbitrary or capricious

2. The decision was pre-textual, in that it was based upon something other than the non-tenured faculty member's professional qualifications and professional conduct

3. The decision resulted from discriminatory or prejudicial treatment during the tenure review process in violation of specific constitutional or statutory rights

4. The decision was not made in accordance with established due process procedures

5. The decision resulted primarily from the exercise of the rights directly associated with the principles of academic freedom as specified in PPM 9-2, Faculty Rights, Section A.

C. The non-tenured faculty member takes on the role of accuser and must file a formal charge with the chair of the Faculty Board of Review. Within ten working days following receipt of a formal charge, the Faculty Board of Review may in its discretion decide not to hold a formal hearing on the charge if it is determined to be beyond the scope of the issues set forth above or if it is determined to be an abuse of the intent of academic due process. The decision to dismiss the charge, together with reasons therefore, shall be submitted in writing to both the accuser and the respondent. If a decision is made to dismiss the formal charge, any appeal must be submitted by the accuser to the president within ten working days of receipt of the decision.

D. If the formal charge is deemed to warrant the convening of a formal hearing, the Faculty Board of Review will conduct a hearing to determine whether academic due process has been afforded the accuser. The hearing shall be strictly limited to resolving the following issues:

1. Whether the decision was arbitrary, capricious or pre-textual. In this regard, it shall not be necessary that the recommendations of the various tenure/ranking committees and administrators all be unanimous. The standard of review is whether the evidence preponderates in favor of a finding that the ultimate decision was or was not based upon legitimate, reasonable grounds.

2. Whether the decision was free from discrimination or prejudice in violation of specific constitutional or statutory rights or that the decision was based primarily on issues surrounding the exercise of academic freedom.

3. Whether the procedural guidelines for the evaluation of non-tenured faculty were followed. If reasonable care is evidenced, then failure to follow the guidelines exactly shall not be construed to be sufficient grounds for a charge of procedural error.

E. The Faculty Board of Review shall not attempt to determine the merit of decisions and recommendation made by tenure/ranking committees.

F. The non-tenured faculty member shall have the burden of introducing sufficient evidence to support a decision that one or more of the rights set forth above were violated during the tenure review process. The standard of proof in these cases shall be preponderance of the evidence. If the non-tenured faculty member in their role of accuser satisfies this burden on any of the issues set forth above, the burden shall then shift to the University in its role of respondent to produce sufficient evidence to rebut the allegations. The ultimate burden of persuasion shall remain with the accuser.

G. The provost or an appointee shall be considered the respondent and therefore shall respond to the formal charge. The respondent shall present competent evidence which addresses the charge that one or more of the accuser's rights set forth above were violated, but only after the accuser has satisfied the initial burden of proof.

H. The hearing shall be conducted according to the provisions for formal hearings contained in PPM 9-12, Formal Hearing. The Faculty Board of Review, however, shall consider only the issues set forth above.

I. The findings and report of the formal hearing shall be guided by the provisions in PPM 9-12, Formal Hearing, sections III, A, C and E. (PPM 9-12, Formal Hearing, sections B and D do not apply to these cases.) In the cases of faculty discussed in this section, the Faculty Board of Review shall recommend the following to the president:

1. The case be dismissed on the grounds that the procedures followed by review committee(s) and administrator(s) were fair, reasonable and afforded academic due process to the accuser; or

2. That the faculty member be reevaluated by the appropriate tenure/ranking review committee(s) and administrator(s) because academic due process was not afforded the accuser. In the event that the recommendation is for reevaluation, the Board will also recommend to the president any corrections in the process (including specifying the addition or deletion of specific individuals in the hearing process) and the precise point in the process at which the rehearing must start. The reevaluation process shall be guided by the policies set forth in Section 8 of this Manual, but shall be completed in a timely manner, no later than December 1 of the calendar year in which the recommendation for non-appointment was made.

J. If the recommendation is for dismissal of the charge, the president shall be guided but not bound by this recommendation. If, however, the recommendation of the Faculty Board of Review is for reevaluation of the faculty member, the president shall be bound by this recommendation. The president shall make a decision no less than ten nor more than twenty working days following the date of the recommendation of the Board. There shall be no appeal or review of the Board's recommendation beyond the president, except as provided in the statutes or the civil courts.


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