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Faculty Dispute Resolution Procedure

Policy Author:
Faculty Senate

Responsible Office-Department:
Faculty Senate

Effective Date of Policy:
Fall 2021

Purpose:

To define the purpose, procedures and appeal processes for various disputes involving faculty.

Scope:

 All Faculty, deans, VPAA

Policy Narrative:

Taken from Faculty Handbook:

https://my.daemen.edu/faculty-staff/faculty-handbook/full-time/handbook.pdf

A. Purpose and Scope

1.  Daemen University expects all faculty members involved in a dispute to seek resolution for their differences in a courteous, collegial, civil and professional manner in accordance with university policies and the AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics (see item “B” below and Appendix J). Furthermore, it is the clear priority of the university that any and all disputes be resolved collegially at the Department Chair level rather than through a more Formal Dispute Resolution procedure described herein.

2.  Daemen University encourages all faculty members to make sincere efforts to resolve all disputes informally prior to initiating the Formal Dispute Resolution procedure described below. Parties to the dispute and resolution process are expected to exercise discretion in discussing the matter so as to safeguard the reputation of colleagues. Compliance with the spirit of this objective will be considered in assessing the case.

3.  The policies and procedures contained herein are not intended to amend or override dispute resolution policies and procedures contained elsewhere in this handbook with regard to promotion, tenure, non-reappointment, disciplinary action for Cause, dismissal, alleged violation of academic freedom, alleged unlawful discrimination, and other related matters not addressed herein.  Additionally, if the nature of the dispute is such that it could meet the criteria for Termination for Cause as defined in Article XI.B, the Complainant may elect to bypass this procedure and bring the dispute directly to the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

4.  With above exceptions clearly stated, should any other dispute arise affecting any member of the faculty, it shall be exclusively resolved in accordance with these dispute resolution procedures. 

5.  Participation in this dispute resolution procedure by any party shall not be considered to preclude that party’s pursuit of legal action or constitute any waiver of rights.

B. AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics

The AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics was adopted by the Faculty in 2014 and will be referenced in terms of assessing the dispute (see also Appendix J).

C. Definitions

   The following terms are defined for purposes of this procedure:

1.  Dispute. The term “dispute” shall be defined for the purposes of these dispute resolution procedures as a complaint by a full-time or part-time member of Daemen University (‘the Complainant’) that they have been injured, harassed, or otherwise negatively affected in violation of a university policy, procedure, or established university practice, or have suffered adverse consequences or have been subject to a hostile environment due to the alleged action of the Respondent(s).  Faculty complaints related to promotion, tenure, non-reappointment, disciplinary action for Cause, dismissal, alleged violation of academic freedom, or alleged unlawful discrimination are specifically excluded from the definition of “dispute” under this procedure.

2.  Complainant. The term “Complainant” is defined as any faculty member who has a dispute as defined under Section A above. The Complainant bears the burden of proof that there has been a violation of policy or established practice, or that there have been adverse consequences or a hostile environment, as a result of the action under dispute. (see also Section H below).

3.  Designated Administrator. In a dispute in which the Vice President for Academic Affairs has a conflict of interest such as being the subject of the dispute, the VPAA, in consultation with the President, will appoint another administrator to perform the VPAA functions in the process.

4.  Respondent(s). The term “Respondent(s)” refers to the party being accused by the Complainant of perpetrating any action that has resulted in a violation of policy or established practice, or who has allegedly contributed to or created an adverse consequence or hostile environment (see also Section H below).

5.  Faculty Member.  For the purposes of this dispute resolution procedure, a “Faculty Member’ is an individual with a paid university appointment at the rank of Distinguished Professor, Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor, and including Instructors with part-time, fixed-term courtesy or visiting status.

6.  Policy.  A “policy” is a written statement of principles and procedures approved by Daemen University that governs actions of faculty members of the university.  Such written statements shall include written rules, bylaws, procedures, and standards approved and in effect at the time of the event.

D. Preliminary Review

It is recommended that, whenever possible, the matter first be discussed with the appropriate Department Chair and/or the appropriate faculty body with a view towards resolving the matter at the first level of administrative management.  The Complainant and Respondent are expected to show evidence of efforts to resolve the matter, taking into consideration university policies and the AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics (see Appendix J). Subsequent levels of review shall consider compliance with the spirit of this provision in rendering decisions.

E. Informal Dispute Resolution Procedure 

1.  Faculty members who believe they may have a dispute should first meet with their Department Chair for an informal discussion of the matter, within fifteen (15) calendar days of the date the Complainant knew or should have known of the dispute upon which the complaint is based.

2.  Exception: If the complaint is brought against a Department Chair, the Complainant shall take the dispute to the Chair’s Divisional Dean in an effort to resolve the dispute. Disputes with a Divisional Dean may be brought to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

3.  The Department Chair seeking to resolve the dispute may consult with others, including the Department Chair or Divisional Dean with jurisdiction over the Respondent, as appropriate, in an effort to gather further evidence, clarify information, and review and resolve such dispute.

4.  If such deliberations with the Department Chair do not result in a resolution to the dispute, the Complainant shall take the dispute to the appropriate Divisional Dean in an effort to informally resolve such disputes.

5.  If the dispute is not resolved by informal discussion with the Complainant’s Department Chair or Divisional Dean, the Complainant may pursue the Formal Dispute Resolution Procedure contained herein.  A Complainant may also pursue the Formal Dispute Resolution procedure as the first step if the dispute or complaint is against a Department Chair or Divisional Dean and cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the Complainant. 

F. Formal Dispute Resolution Procedure
  1. Written Statement: If the dispute is not resolved as a result of the Informal Dispute Resolution procedures described in Section E, the Complainant may file a formal written complaint with the Faculty Review Committee with at least the following components:
    1. Identification of Daemen University faculty member(s) against whom the Complaint is brought;
    2. A full description of the specific alleged behavior or action that has given rise to the dispute, including details on when and where the action or behavior took place, by whom, and the impact or consequence to the Complainant;
    3. A summary and evidence of the steps taken by the Complainant to informally resolve the problem under the Informal Dispute Resolution procedure (see Sections D and E above), and the reasons the Informal Dispute Resolution process was not successful;
    4. A statement of the requested resolution and the Complainant’s explanation for the requested resolution; and
    5. The Complainant’s name, title, address, contact information, and signature.
  2. There must be a preponderance of evidence to support the validity of the complaint. Evidence may include documents, interviews, conversations, and other relevant matter. All supporting evidence will be provided to the Faculty Review Committee for review.
  3. Faculty Review Committee members who are involved in the dispute shall not serve on the Faculty Review Committee for this matter.  Alternate members will be appointed based on the next highest eligible selectee (see Article V.E.4). Faculty Review Committee members who have been removed from the case due to their involvement as Respondent(s) or participants in the investigation may have discussions with the Complainant.
  4. Deliberations of the Faculty Review Committee:
    1. Upon receipt of the formally filed dispute written statement, the Faculty Review Committee shall conduct a comprehensive review of the allegations, for which all relevant information necessary to determine the merits of the complaint will be provided by the Complainant and the Respondent.
    2. The Faculty Review Committee may request additional information or interview the parties to clarify and obtain an understanding of the issue.
    3. The Faculty Review Committee shall provide for a private hearing, or series of hearings, at which the Complainant, the Respondent(s), and witnesses called by the parties to the dispute and/or by the committee, shall appear and supply factual information about the specific dispute under review.  Such factual information shall include any records, documents, electronic transmissions, or other evidence directly relevant to the dispute.
    4. None of these hearings shall be open to others on campus or to the general public.  
  5. Report of the Faculty Review Committee and Timeframe:
    1. The Faculty Review Committee shall determine whether any of the allegations, if substantiated, would warrant or require any administrative action, sanction, or other remedial action, and if so, whether the preponderance of the evidence supports the allegations made by the Complainant.
    2. After a thorough review of all evidence and testimony presented at the hearing(s) of the Faculty Review Committee, the committee shall submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator.
    3. The hearing review process described above, including the development of a written report of findings by the Faculty Review Committee and the submission of the recommendations of the committee to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator, shall take no longer than forty-five (45) days, excluding days in which Daemen University is closed.
    4. The Faculty Review Committee Report and recommendations shall be confidential. The exception would be any resolution that, by nature of implementation, becomes publicly apparent within the Daemen University community. Even then, faculty are expected to exercise discretion and avoid discussing the matter so as to protect the reputation and integrity of all parties involved. A copy of the report, including committee recommendations, shall be provided to the Complainant and to the Respondent(s).  Both the Complainant and the Respondent(s) shall agree to keep the report findings confidential.
G. Appeals
  1. Appeal to Vice President for Academic Affairs:
    1. The Complainant or Respondent(s) shall have fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Faculty Review Committee Report to appeal their findings to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or a Designated Administrator.
    2. The Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator shall review and act upon the recommendations of the Faculty Review Committee and any appeals of the committee findings from the Complainant or Respondent. Such action shall include a determination of an appropriate proposed remedy to resolve the dispute that is under review.
    3. The Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator and the Faculty Review Committee shall make every effort to reach agreement in all matters. If the VPAA/Designee disagrees with the recommendation of the Faculty Review Committee, the committee must have an opportunity to discuss and present the rationale underlying its decision to the VPAA/Designee. The VPAA/Designee must also present a rationale to the Faculty Review Committee.
    4. If a disagreement cannot be resolved regarding the recommended action, both the VPAA/Designee and the Faculty Review Committee shall bring the matter to the President for resolution.
    5. The conclusions reached by the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator shall be presented in a written report to the Complainant and the Respondent no later than thirty (30) days after the VPAA/Designee receives the findings of the Faculty Review Committee.  The report shall include conclusions reached during the appeal review process authorized under this Section.
    6. If the Vice President for Academic Affairs is the focus of a formal dispute, the report of the Faculty Review Committee shall go directly to the President.  Under these circumstances, the President shall assume the role that the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator would have played under this Section.
  2. Appeal to the President of the University:
    1. Under limited conditions, an appeal may be made to the President of the University.  Specifically, an appeal to the President may be made by the Complainant or the Respondent only if, in the opinion of either party to the dispute that:
      1. There has been a fundamental prejudicial procedural error in the handling of the dispute brought through the Formal Dispute Resolution procedure process; or
      2. The recommendation of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator, including any proposed sanction, violated an official published policy of the University.
    2. An appeal to the President must be formally filed with the President within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the formal decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator by the parties involved in the dispute. The President shall render a decision on the appeal within fifteen (15) days from the time the written appeal is received from the appellant faculty member.
    3. Should the President determine that the appeal to the President of the University has merit, the dispute shall be sent back to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator and the Faculty Review Committee to allow for an expedited remedial process to address only the procedural error or the proposed sanction in question.
    4. If the President determines that there is no justification or basis for the appeal on either of the two narrowly proscribed issues, the Complainant and the Respondent shall be notified, and the ruling of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or Designated Administrator shall stand and be enforced accordingly. 

This ends the Formal Dispute Resolution Procedure.

H. Disputes Between Members of Different Constituencies

In the event of disputes between members of different campus constituencies, procedures are as follows:

  1. A dispute initiated by a faculty member against an administrative or staff employee shall be governed and processed according to the procedures outlined in the Staff and Administrative Handbook.
  2. A dispute initiated by an administrative or staff employee against a faculty member shall be governed and processed according to this Dispute Resolution Procedure outlined in the Faculty Handbook.
  3. If it is unclear what procedure is appropriate for disputes involving faculty members, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Faculty Senate President, shall determine the procedure to be followed.
  4. Disputes with students initiated by faculty should follow procedures outlined in the Student Handbook.
  5. Disputes with faculty initiated by students should follow the dispute resolution procedure outlined in the Student Handbook. 
Updated on April 11, 2022

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