Grievance Resolution for College Faculty
Moravian University Statement on Professional Ethics
As an institution of higher learning whose express purpose is to educate students, promote scholarship, and create an environment of open inquiry and intellectual integrity, Moravian University has an obligation to set and maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct among and between faculty, administration, students, and staff. The following Statement on Professional Ethics provides a framework for these ethical standards.
Definition of Grievance
A grievance is defined as an allegation that a violation of College policy or procedure as set forth in the Faculty Handbook (including violations of faculty rights, infringements of academic freedom or breach of professional ethics, civil rights or harassment complaints), or an allegation of a condition which seriously interferes with the ability of a faculty member to fulfill his or her responsibilities as teacher and scholar or artist has occurred. Appeals of decisions of the Academic Personnel Committee are heard by the Faculty Review Committee, and the procedure below does not apply.
Dispute Resolution Among Faculty Members
The DRG encourages faculty members to seek out a liaison, if a dispute or uncomfortable situation is complicating their work at the University. Liaisons support the constructive resolution of disputes among faculty members. A conversation with one or more liaisons is one of the most important forms of support the Dispute Resolution Group (DRG) can offer. Often one conversation clarifies both the problem and possible approaches to resolving it. The DRG functions as a filter for cases. Liaisons may also offer to accompany those party to a dispute to meetings, where and when that form of support would be appropriate.
Faculty members choose which of the four liaisons they would like to contact. They may also ask to work with more than one liaison. Liaisons may direct faculty members to one or more of the following resources, depending on the nature of the dispute and the wishes of those party to it:
- The liaison serves as a sounding board for a problem and can help identify the critical issue, formulate a question for further discussion, or simply offer an additional perspective.
- The liaison may offer to arrange a conversation with those party to the dispute.
- It may be appropriate to contact the Provost and Dean of the Faculty to arrange a conversation. Liaisons can be present for such a conversation, if those party to the dispute so choose. Records of such meetings are kept by Academic Affairs.
- Similarly, it may be appropriate to arrange a conversation with the Director of Human Resources. Liaisons can be present for such a conversation, if those party to the dispute so choose. Records of such meetings are kept by Human Resources.
- A professional mediator can be engaged to determine whether or not a case is appropriate for mediation and whether those party to the dispute agree to mediate. Mediation is not a hearing or an adversarial process. Mediation aims at empowerment, recognition, and education. A meeting with a mediator can include a needs assessment that leads to further research prior to mediation. If mediation is successful, the dispute will be considered resolved. The parties remain free to pursue their dispute by other means. This group has a fixed budget for professional mediation set by the Office of Academic Affairs.
- For legally actionable complaints, a lawyer should be contacted. The mediator can help assess whether a complaint requires legal action.
Liaisons document their cases in the following ways:
- Liaisons contact each other and report that they are meeting with a faculty member who has a concern. The contacted liaison sends an email to the group. No specifics are mentioned. Information is shared on a need to know basis or when parties to the dispute request the involvement of specific liaisons, administrators, or a mediator.
- Liaisons do not keep formal records regarding the specifics of conversations with faculty members who approach them with concerns. Notes should be treated in accordance with the confidentiality agreement.
- Cases will be counted and categorized in the most general terms to protect confidentiality.
- Any contact with liaisons regarding a dispute will be counted and categorized, including conversations not resulting in further steps.
- Liaisons collect general information to be summarized annually. Summaries are stored in Academic Affairs.
- At the start of the academic year, the DRG shares the summary of its work with the faculty so possible patterns can be discussed and addressed.
Complaints against faculty members that merit a formal procedure are those that cannot be resolved by informal means such as the grievance procedure or a mediation process, and/or that the dean of the faculty judges to be made in a timely fashion and, on their face, to merit discipline or dismissal. Such formal complaints may be brought by employees and students of Moravian University. Formal complaints include allegations of harassment as described in the University harassment policy, violations of the faculty ethics policy, and other forms of misconduct. Not addressed by this procedure are decisions not to renew temporary appointments, decisions not to grant tenure, and other matters that do not expressly constitute discipline or dismissal in the faculty handbook, policies, or procedures. Likewise, written comments to faculty members by the Academic Personnel Committee or by the dean of the faculty made in the course of their normal work do not constitute the formal discipline addressed in this procedure. Faculty members who are acting as full-time administrators are not considered faculty members under these procedures.
Status of the faculty member
Pending a final decision concerning discipline or dismissal, the faculty member shall not normally be relieved of duties. If, however, the dean of the faculty finds that substantial harm to the institution or significant risk to a member of the Moravian community may result if the faculty member is continued in his or her position, the faculty member may be relieved of all or a portion of his or her duties. In this case, salary will continue at least until a final decision is reached. In the case of probationary faculty, the dean of the faculty may issue a revocable notice of dismissal to that faculty member if it appears that the case will not be resolved before the date by which the University must notify the faculty member of non-reappointment or else provide another year of employment. Such notice of dismissal will be revoked if the case is dismissed or disciplinary action other than dismissal is decided upon.
Formal complaints and schedules
Formal complaints shall be in writing and signed and shall be submitted to the dean of the faculty. The dean may also make a complaint. Any complaint must be submitted within one calendar year of the alleged event. In addition, serious efforts should be made to adhere to the schedule of the procedures described below. If temporary delays occur, however, they will not invalidate procedures.
The dean may undertake preliminary investigation of the matter, but must notify the faculty member within three working days that a formal complaint has been made. The notice must be in writing and a copy must be sent to the president. When possible, the dean will present the notice and the issues to the faculty member in person. In the written notice, the dean will offer to discuss the matter in a conference, giving the faculty member an opportunity to respond. The written notice must also include the nature of the complaint, but the name of the person(s) making the complaint may be kept confidential at this point. If the dean determines that the complaint is without sufficient merit, the dean may terminate the procedure.
If, however, the dean determines that the complaint is substantial and might merit discipline or dismissal, the dean will investigate the complaint promptly or, in consultation with the Academic Personnel Committee, appoint an investigator who is an employee of the University. If the dean is the person initiating the complaint, the president may appoint another investigator who is an employee of the University.
Any member of the Academic Personnel Committee who has a conflict of interest in the matter shall be replaced on the committee for the consideration of the matter by an appropriate former member of the Academic Personnel Committee, to be named by the committee. For purposes of this provision only, serving in the same department as the faculty member against whom a complaint has been made shall be presumed to be a conflict of interest.
After the investigation, the dean shall ask the Academic Personnel Committee to review the complaint in order to determine whether in its view formal proceedings to consider discipline or dismissal of the faculty member should be instituted. The committee may ask the dean or the appointed investigator to further investigate the complaint. If the committee recommends that formal proceedings should be initiated, it will formulate a statement of the issues with reasonable particularity of the grounds proposed for discipline or dismissal and action will commence under the procedures that follow.
If the Academic Personnel Committee recommends against formal proceedings, it must notify the president in writing within five working days of the grounds for its recommendation and of the nature of any minority opinion within the committee. The president, after considering a recommendation of the committee favorable to the faculty member, may decide that a formal proceeding should nevertheless be undertaken. In this case, the president or his or her representative who is an employee of the University will formulate the statement of the issues and action will commence under the procedures that follow.
Commencement of formal proceedings
The formal proceedings will commence with a communication addressed to the faculty member by the dean of the faculty or his or her representative who is an employee of the University, providing the faculty member with the statement of the issues. The communication will also state that if the faculty member requests, the Academic Personnel Committee will meet with the faculty member (i.e., only members of the Academic Personnel Committee, the faculty member, and any appointed investigator) in an effort to resolve the issue. The communication should also inform the faculty member that he or she may request a hearing (i.e., as in item 6 below) to help determine whether the Academic Personnel Committee will recommend that he or she should be disciplined or removed as a result of the issues stated. The dean will assure that the faculty member has a copy of these procedures, which will be included in the Faculty Handbook.
Within five working days of the dean’s communication, the faculty member will notify the dean in writing whether he or she requests a meeting with the Academic Personnel Committee or a hearing. The faculty member will also have at least fifteen working days from the dean’s communication to prepare a written defense and submit it to the committee. If the faculty member wishes a meeting, it will occur soon after submission of the faculty member’s written defense. Within seven working days of the meeting, the Academic Personnel Committee will inform the faculty member in writing what its recommendation to the president would be at that moment. If the faculty member is dissatisfied with the outcome, he or she will have three additional working days to notify the dean in writing whether he or she requests a formal hearing.
If the faculty member wishes a hearing, the hearing will occur no sooner than fifteen and not later than thirty working days after submission of the faculty member’s written defense or after the communication to the faculty member of the Academic Personnel Committee’s draft recommendations, whichever is later. At least five working days before the hearing, the faculty member and the Academic Personnel Committee will share any documents they intend to introduce at the hearing. If the faculty member does not request a meeting or a hearing, or submit a written defense, the committee should consider the case on the basis of the information obtained.
Hearing committee proceeding
The Academic Personnel Committee will proceed by considering the statement of the issues, as well as the faculty member’s response written before the time of the hearing. At the hearing, the investigator will summarize the details of the investigation and the faculty member may make a statement or designate an employee of the University to do so on his or her behalf. Documents corroborating or refuting the allegations, if available, should be submitted and made part of the record. If additional written statements would be helpful, the committee may request them.
The faculty member may choose an advisor who may provide advice at the hearing. The advisor must be an employee of Moravian University or an attorney authorized to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The dean will notify the person(s) making the complaint and witnesses when the hearing will occur. Complainants and witnesses at the hearing may each have an advisor who is an employee or student of Moravian University. Communications between the faculty member and the advisor are considered privileged at Moravian University. If the faculty member desires to have an attorney advisor present at the hearing, he or she must notify all other participants at least ten days prior to the hearing date to allow others to seek counsel. Otherwise, no attorneys shall be present. In no event shall a hearing proceed with an attorney present on behalf of the faculty member without the presence of counsel to the hearing committee as well. No advisor may interrogate witnesses, address any party to the proceeding except the person he or she has been asked to advise, or address the hearing committee unless requested to do so by the chair.
The hearing will be private, not public. The hearing is not a trial and the procedures and standards for admissible evidence need not conform to those in a court of law. Except as set forth above, the Academic Personnel Committee should determine the order of the hearing, should normally conduct the questioning of the witnesses, and should take whatever actions are necessary to assure that the presentation of information and evidence relevant to the precise issues before it is fair and non-confrontational. If attorneys act as advisors, the participants may present summary memoranda to the hearing committee within ten days of the close of the hearing solely for the purpose of identifying legal issues which the participants desire the hearing committee to consider in its deliberations. The committee should consider only information or evidence that it reasonably believes is relevant to the precise issues presented. The committee should keep a record of what evidence it includes or excludes and why it includes or excludes this evidence.
If, after the hearing, the Academic Personnel Committee determines that additional information is required to reach a decision, it may ask the dean or an ad hoc committee of three tenured or tenure-track faculty members that it appoints to investigate the situation further and provide in writing the additional information required. If such information is obtained, the faculty member will be given an opportunity to respond to it in writing.
Consideration by the Academic Personnel Committee
The Academic Personnel Committee, including the dean as a non-voting member, will make a recommendation by majority vote, on the basis of the hearing and of materials submitted as part of the investigation, with votes recorded but not attributed. It should make findings solely with respect to each of the issues presented in the statement of issues, the faculty member’s response, and any other closely related issues that arise in the work of the committee. It will transmit its findings and a recommendation for or against discipline or dismissal to the president with copies to the dean, the concerned faculty member, and the person(s) making the complaint. If the vote is for discipline, the committee will also make a confidential recommendation to the president of the form the discipline might take.
Consideration by the president and governing board and appeal
As soon as possible, the president will render a decision and advise the Academic Personnel Committee, the dean, the faculty member concerned, and the person(s) making the complaint. The president may decide to dismiss the matter, take disciplinary action, dismiss a term or probationary faculty member, or recommend dismissal of a tenured faculty member to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. The president does not communicate the exact nature of disciplinary measures to the Academic Personnel Committee or to the person(s) who submitted the complaint.
Within thirty days after receiving official notification of the president’s decision, a faculty member may appeal the decision by submitting a written request to the Faculty Review Committee, with copies to the president and to the Academic Personnel Committee. In the request, the faculty member must address the substantive and/or procedural grounds of the appeal. At this point, the Academic Personnel Committee may offer evidence for its findings to the Faculty Review Committee. The Faculty Review Committee submits a confidential written report of its findings to the president no later than two months after receiving the appeal. The president’s decision on the matter is final.
Publicity and records
To protect both the institution and the faculty member, those involved in these procedures must not disclose information related to the review process unless authorized to do so by the president.
If a proceeding is terminated by the University or if it is decided that there were no grounds for discipline or dismissal, all records of the investigation and/or proceedings will be kept in a secure location in the Human Resources Office, but not in the accused faculty member’s personnel file, for a period of six and one-half years. In the event of discipline or dismissal, the records of the investigation and proceedings will be kept in the personnel file of the faculty member. Participants in the review process shall not separately maintain records and notes.