X. Retirement, Resignation, Dismissal for Cause, Dismissal of Tenured Faculty

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  • Endorsed by the Faculty, October 8, 2003.
  • Endorsed by the Faculty and Educational Program Committee of the Board of Trustees, December 11, 2003;
  • Approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, January 7, 2004

A. Retirement. There is no mandatory retirement age for officers of instruction.

B. Resignation. Officers of instruction who intend to resign their faculty position will inform the Dean of the Faculty in writing within two weeks of receiving contracts for the next academic year.

C. Dismissal for Cause. On rare occasions there are reasons to question the fitness of a tenured faculty member or a faculty member whose term has not expired for continued employment. Such reasons may include, without limitation, moral turpitude (including falsification of academic credentials), neglect of assigned duty, or incompetency.

The procedures to be followed in evaluating these reasons and taking appropriate actions must be pursued with due consideration of the position of the faculty member and of the welfare of the academic mission of the College. For this reason Rhodes College has adopted procedural guidelines set forth in the 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, established by the American Association of University Professors. A copy is attached as an Appendix. The procedures outlined in the paragraphs below are direct adaptations to the Rhodes College governance structure of these AAUP guidelines.

  1. Preliminary Proceedings Concerning the Fitness of a Faculty Member. When reason arises to question the fitness of a college faculty member who has tenure or whose term appointment has not expired, the Dean of the Faculty, after consultation with the President, will discuss the matter with the faculty member in personal conference. The matter may be terminated by mutual consent at this point; but if a resolution does not result, the Faculty Governance Committee will informally inquire into the situation to effect a resolution if possible and, if none is effected, to determine whether in its view formal proceedings to consider dismissal for cause should be instituted.

    If the Faculty Governance Committee recommends that such proceedings be begun, or if the Dean of the Faculty, after consultation with the President, even after considering a recommendation of the committee favorable to the faculty member, takes the position that a proceeding should be undertaken, action will be commenced under the procedures which follow.

    Except where there is disagreement between the Faculty Governance Committee and the Dean of the Faculty, a statement with reasonable particularity of the grounds proposed for the dismissal will be jointly formulated by the Dean of the Faculty and the Faculty Governance Committee. If there is disagreement, the Dean of the Faculty will formulate the statement.
  2. Commencement of Formal Proceedings. The formal proceedings are initiated by a letter to the faculty member from the Dean of the Faculty, informing the faculty member of the statement formulated, and informing the faculty member that, if requested, a hearing to determine whether the faculty member should be removed from the faculty position on the grounds stated will be conducted by the Faculty Committee on Appeals at a specified time and place. The Faculty Committee on Appeals sits as the Hearing Committee for matters involving dismissal for cause. The hearing is normally scheduled within thirty days of notification to the faculty member.

    In setting the date of the hearing, sufficient time will be allowed the faculty member to prepare a defense. The faculty member will be informed, in detail or by reference to published regulations, of the procedural rights that will be accorded to the faculty member. The faculty member will state in reply whether a hearing is requested and, if so, will answer in writing, not less than ten days before the date set for the hearing, the statements in the Dean of the Faculty’s letter.
  3. Suspension of the Faculty Member. Suspension of the faculty member during the proceedings is justified only if immediate harm to self or others is threatened by a continuance of the appointment. Unless legal consideration forbids, any such suspension will be with pay.
  4. Faculty Committee on Appeals. The committee of faculty members to conduct the hearing and reach a decision is an elected standing committee of the Faculty – the Faculty Committee on Appeals. In the event that there is a conflict of interest presented to any member of the committee the standard procedure for appointing a replacement is to be followed.
  5. Faculty Committee on Appeals Proceedings. The Faculty Committee on Appeals proceeds by considering the statement of grounds for dismissal already formulated and the faculty member’s response written before the time of the hearing.

    If the faculty member has not requested a hearing, the Committee should consider the case on the basis of the obtainable information and decide whether the appointment of the faculty member should not be renewed; otherwise the hearing should go forward.

    The Committee, in consultation with the Dean of the Faculty and the faculty member, will exercise its judgment as to whether the hearing should be public or private. If any facts are in dispute, the testimony of witnesses and other evidence concerning the matter set forth in the letter to the faculty member will be made available to the Committee by the Dean of the Faculty.

    The Dean of the Faculty has the option of attendance during the hearing. The Dean of the Faculty may designate an appropriate representative to assist in developing the case; but the committee will secure the presentation of evidence important to the case, will determine the order of proof, and will normally conduct the questioning of witnesses if called.

    The faculty member will have the option of assistance by counsel, whose functions should be similar to those of the representative chosen by the Dean of the Faculty. The faculty member has the additional procedural rights set forth in the 1940 AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and will have the aid of the Faculty Committee on Appeals, when needed, in securing the attendance of witnesses.

    The faculty member or his or her counsel, and the Dean of the Faculty or representative designated by the Dean of the Faculty, have the right, within reasonable limits, to question all witnesses who testify orally. The faculty member has the opportunity to be confronted by all witnesses adverse to the faculty member. Where unusual and urgent reasons cause the Faculty Committee on Appeals to withhold this right, or where the witness cannot appear, the identity of the witness, as well as the witness’ statements, will nevertheless be disclosed to the faculty member. Subject to these safeguards, statements may when necessary be taken outside the hearing and made available to the Committee. All of the evidence will be duly recorded. Unless special circumstances warrant, it is not necessary to follow formal rules of court procedure.
  6. Consideration by the Faculty Committee on Appeals. The Faculty Committee on Appeals will reach its decision in conference, on the basis of the hearing. Before doing so, it will give opportunity to the faculty member or counsel and the representative designated by the Dean of the Faculty to argue orally before it. If written briefs would be helpful, the committee may request them.

    The committee may proceed to decision promptly, without having the record of the hearing transcribed, where it feels that a just decision can be reached by this means; or it may await the availability of a transcript of the hearing if its decision would be aided thereby. It will make explicit findings with respect to each of the grounds of removal presented, and a reasoned opinion is required.

    Publicity concerning the committee’s decision may properly be withheld until consideration has been given to the case by the governing body of the institution.

    The Dean of the Faculty, the President, and the faculty member will be notified of the decision in writing and will be given a copy of the record of the hearing. Any release to the public is made through the President’s office.
  7. Consideration by Governing Body. The President transmits to the Board of Trustees the full report of the Faculty Committee on Appeals, stating its action. On the assumption that the Board of Trustees has accepted the principle of the Faculty Committee on Appeals, acceptance of the committee’s decision is normally expected.

    If the Board of Trustees chooses to review the case, its review will be based on the record of the previous hearing, accompanied by opportunity for argument, oral or written or both, by the principals at the hearing or their representatives.

    The decision of the Faculty Committee on Appeals is either sustained or the proceeding is returned to the committee with objections specified. In such a case the committee will reconsider the case, taking account of the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary. It frames its decision and communicates it in the same manner as before.

    Only after study of the committee’s reconsideration will the Board of Trustees make a final decision overruling the committee.
  8. Publicity. Except for such simple announcements as may be required, covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, public statements about the case by either the faculty member or administrative officers are avoided so far as possible until the proceedings have been completed. Any announcement of the final decision will include a statement of the Faculty Committee on Appeal’s original action, if this has not previously been made known.

D. Dismissal of Tenured Faculty. Special institutional circumstances may lead to the dismissal of a tenured faculty member.

If a program or department or major track within a department is discontinued, faculty members within that program or department may be dismissed. However, the College will give hiring priority to any tenured faculty member who had been dismissed for these reasons should the program or department or track be reestablished within two years.

The President may declare a state of financial exigency in the event that the College’s total operating income declines by 10% or more from the annual projected income budget. In the event that a state of financial exigency is declared, each department and division of the College will develop a reduction plan immediately, not waiting for the next budget cycle.

If the College declares a state of financial exigency, tenured members of the faculty may be dismissed. The College should be most reluctant to take the extreme measure of dismissing tenured members of the Faculty.