5.4.1 Jurisdiction of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee
The function of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee is to gather evidence and make findings and to make recommendations to the chief academic officer for the disposition of cases within its jurisdiction. The Faculty Senate Appeals Committee does not replace the role of faculty and administrators in making employment-related decisions. Instead, it is guided by the aim of maximizing the protection of the principles of academic freedom, due process, and fairness. All matters before the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee are kept in strict confidence and subject to state open records laws and other legal requirements.
A faculty member requesting the Appeals Committee to consider his or her complaint must submit a written statement to the chair of the committee with a copy to the chief academic officer. The Appeals Committee, in consultation with the chief academic officer, will determine if it has jurisdiction over the complaint. The jurisdiction of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee regarding promotion and tenure includes complaints regarding failure to follow the procedures contained in this handbook and in collegiate and departmental bylaws. The Faculty Senate Appeals Committee will not consider matters for which a special appeals procedure is provided. See section 5.1.2.
The Appeals Committee is comprised of 18 tenured faculty members appointed to staggered three-year terms by the Faculty Senate Committee on Nominations and Appointments with the advice and consent of the Faculty Senate. At least one member of the committee must have legal expertise. The complete procedures for appeals through the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee are posted on the Faculty Senate web site.
Faculty making an appeal are encouraged to consult the faculty ombudsperson before bringing an appeal to the Appeals Committee. After receiving a request for an appeal review, the Appeals Committee will take one of four actions:
- recommend mediation between the faculty member and the administrator whose action is the source of the faculty member’s complaint by trained mediators, which might include faculty ombudspersons who have not been previously involved in the matter as a consultant or informal mediator
- take no action on the grounds that the appeal lacks merit for consideration or lies outside of the scope of the committee
- redirect the appeal through the administrative channel, or
- initiate a review panel
The chairperson will give written notice of that decision with explanation to the faculty member, the administrator(s) whose decision is being contested, and the chief academic officer.
5.4.2 Process for Appeals
Faculty member(s) have the right to initiate an appeal to the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee within one year of the administrative action that caused the complaint. The appeal must be submitted in writing and include a comprehensive statement of the complaint. After the chair of the Appeals Committee has consulted with the committee and the chief academic officer and they have determined that a complaint both lies within the jurisdiction of the committee and merits consideration, the committee chair will establish arrangements necessary to ensure a complete review of the complaint by a review panel.
Alternatively, when a faculty member initiated a complaint through the administrative process with a department head (director) and/or dean that has not been resolved and the faculty member remains unsatisfied after a final decision of the dean, he or she may appeal to the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee. The appeal must be submitted in writing and include a comprehensive statement of the complaint after the faculty member has been given notice of the dean’s decision and of his or her right to request consideration of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee. The appeal will then be reviewed by the chair of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee in consultation with the committee and the chief academic officer to determine that the complaint both lies within the jurisdiction of the committee and merits consideration. The committee chair will establish arrangements necessary to ensure a complete review of the complaint by a review panel.
The chairperson appoints a panel consisting of no fewer than three members of the committee and designates one of the three as chair of the panel. The chair of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee provides written notification of the appointment of a review panel along with the names of the chair and the members to the faculty member, each administrator whose decision will be reviewed, and the chief academic officer. The written notification also includes a description of review procedures and a copy of the comprehensive statement of the complaint. Any objections to the membership of the review panel or the review procedures shall be made in writing to the chair of the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee, whose written decision to sustain or overrule the decision shall be final. If the objection is sustained, the chair will facilitate a resolution so that the review may proceed.
5.4.3 Hearing Results and Recommendations
At the conclusion of the review, the Faculty Senate Appeals Committee shares its findings and recommendations in writing with the faculty member, the administrator(s) involved in the appeal, and the chief academic officer. Before the final decision is made by the chief academic officer, the faculty member or the administrator(s) involved in the appeal may request reconsideration of the complaint on the grounds that the review panel made a clearly erroneous finding of fact or that there has been newly discovered evidence which was previously unavailable. This request must be submitted in writing to the chief academic officer and to the chair of the Appeals Committee. The decision of the Appeals Committee whether and to what extent to reopen the hearing shall be final. The request for reconsideration must be made within 15 working days of the findings and recommendation of the Appeals Committee.
If the recommendations of the Appeals Committee are approved by the chief academic officer, the written final decision will be provided to the faculty member making the appeal, the administrator(s) involved in the appeal, and the Appeals Committee.
If the recommendations of the Appeals Committee are not approved by the chief academic officer, the chief academic officer will then meet with the Appeals Committee to exchange views and determine whether the case can be resolved in a mutually acceptable manner between the chief academic officer and the committee, in which case the committee will re-issue its recommendations to reflect that position. If the chief academic officer and the committee cannot resolve the case in a mutually agreeable manner, the chief academic officer will issue a final written decision which will be provided to the committee, the faculty member, and the administrators involved. The final written decision will include the reasons for not accepting the findings and recommendations of the Appeal Committee.
The faculty member may appeal the decision of the chief academic officer by notifying the chancellor in writing within 10 days of receipt of the written notice of the decision of the chief academic officer.
If the committee’s review indicates that principles of due process, shared governance, and/or academic freedom as described in this handbook are not adequately addressed by existing university procedures, the Appeals Committee may request that the Faculty Senate Faculty Affairs Committee consider structural or systemic issues apart from the merits of the particular case that brought the issues to light.