Termination of University Employment
Employment at the University may be terminated by non renewal of a term election, by resignation, by retirement, or by termination for financial stringency or for adequate cause. Termination of a faculty member's employment before the end of a specified term or after a faculty member has been granted tenure is rare, but possible. It can occur if the University faces financial stringency. Or it can occur for adequate cause revealed by the faculty performance review process or in other situations where adequate cause exists. "Adequate cause" includes a clear level of professional incompetence, a serious breach of professional ethics or University policy, willful neglect of duty, or serious misconduct. Termination of a faculty member requires the approval of the executive vice president and provost (or designee if she or he is unavailable).
Suspension of University Employment
Suspension of a faculty member from University employment is available as a sanction for unacceptable performance disclosed as part of the faculty performance review process or when justified by grounds constituting adequate cause. Suspension of a faculty member requires the approval of the executive vice president and provost (or designee).
Reinstatement of employment following a suspension may occur if and when the faculty member can demonstrate that the cause of the suspension has been addressed and the behavior leading to the suspension is not likely to be continued. A suspended faculty member may be terminated from University employment if the criteria for "adequate cause" listed in the section entitled "Termination of University Employment" have been met.
Procedure for Disciplinary Suspension or Termination of Academic Faculty
- The following administrative procedures govern "for-cause" disciplinary suspensions and terminations of academic faculty. These procedures do not apply to employees classified as administrative or professional non-tenure-track faculty, members of the professional research staff, or University staff, nor do they apply to decisions involving promotion, election to an indefinite term, reappointment, renewal, or non-renewal of appointments.
Academic faculty appointments are terminable for adequate cause. Adequate cause includes a clear level of professional incompetence, a serious breach of professional ethics or University policy, willful neglect of duty, or serious misconduct. These procedures provide that faculty members who face possible disciplinary suspension or termination shall receive:
- written notice of the charge(s) and summary of the information supporting them;
- an opportunity to meet with the responsible administrator to discuss the written notice of the charge(s);
- an opportunity to have an advisory faculty panel review the charge(s), including their factual justification; and
- written notice of the provost's decision.
- Written Notice: Prior to initiating a termination or suspension, the dean (or provost) shall provide a faculty member with written notice of the charges and summary of the information supporting them. An exception to this provision for written notice is when the provost, in consultation with the dean and the chair of the Faculty Senate if available, determines that an immediate or interim suspension is justified to safeguard the University community or its operations from harm or disruption. In this circumstance, a faculty member may be suspended with pay before receiving written notice. As soon as is practicable, and no more than five business days later, the dean (or provost) shall provide the faculty member with written notice of the suspension including a description of the charges and summary of the information justifying the interim suspension.
- Meeting with the Dean: The dean (or provost) shall schedule a meeting with the faculty member to discuss the charges as soon as practicable, but normally within five calendar days after the date of the written notice of charges. Such meeting shall also be scheduled to review with the affected faculty member the justification in the case of interim suspension as provided for above.
- After meeting with the faculty member, or after having provided the faculty member with an opportunity for such meeting, the dean shall formulate a recommendation to the provost. The dean may recommend termination, suspension (normally with pay pending the decision of the provost as provided for hereafter in paragraph M), a lesser sanction, or no sanction at all. As soon as practicable, the dean shall provide the faculty member with written notice of the recommendation. The provost may, however, initiate such action on his or her own authority, providing written notice to the faculty member.
- Peer Review: After receiving written notice of a recommended termination or suspension, a faculty member will be entitled to peer review, as provided for below. The peer review will take place unless the faculty member requests, in a timely manner, to opt out of the peer review process. Such a request to opt out of the peer review process must be made in writing and delivered to the provost's office within ten calendar days after the date of the written notice of the dean's recommendation to the provost, or the date of the provost's notice in those cases when the provost acts on his or her own authority. In the event the affected faculty member opts out of peer review, the provost or his designee shall nonetheless provide the faculty member with reasonable opportunity to discuss the charges and the dean’s recommendation.
- Administrative responsibility for deciding whether to suspend or terminate rests with the provost or other person authorized by the University’s president, which decision may be further appealed as provided for in paragraph N. At any time, however, deans and other appropriate administrators are authorized to accept employment resignations without seeking further approval.
- Peer Review Process: The provost shall ask the chair of the Faculty Senate to appoint a faculty panel to assist in reviewing the charges. The panel shall be composed of three members selected from the ranks of the academic faculty. Every effort shall be made to avoid appointing any individual known to be directly involved in the underlying dispute. The chair of the Faculty Senate shall designate the chair of the panel.
- The panel shall review the charges, including the factual justification for disciplinary action; however, its proceedings hereunder are not designed to constitute a formal evidentiary hearing or trial. The panel shall provide the faculty member with an opportunity to meet with the panel and discuss the charges and offer his or her explanation as to why the recommended disciplinary action is unjustified. Such meeting shall be scheduled promptly and normally within ten (10) calendar days following appointment of the panel.
The chair of the panel shall preside over all of its meetings and shall exercise his or her sound discretion to resolve any procedural issue that may arise, consistent with the following guidelines:
- The chair shall schedule panel meetings and shall promptly notify the affected faculty member, the provost, and the dean of that schedule.
- The faculty member may be accompanied by legal counsel; however counsel for either party may not participate in the panel session other than to advise his or her client.
- No one appearing before the panel shall be compelled to answer questions in violation of his or her constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.
- Formal rules of evidence, courtroom practices, and discovery rules do not apply to the panel's proceedings. However, with the assent of the panel chair, the panel may hear from and consider relevant testimony from persons who are present at the scheduled panel meeting when such consideration is requested by the faculty member or the administration. The burden is on the requesting party to arrange for such person being present for the scheduled panel meeting.
- The provost may be present to observe panel meetings with the faculty member. With the permission of the chair of the panel, the provost or designee may ask questions.
- The panel chair shall arrange for an audio recording to be made of the panel’s meeting with the faculty member or the dean (or provost).
- The burden shall be upon the administration to establish justification for termination or other serious disciplinary action.
- At the conclusion of its review, the panel shall prepare a written report and recommendation to the provost. In this report, the panel shall advise the provost whether, in its opinion, the charges appear reasonably justified and constitute grounds for termination or other serious disciplinary action. Any dissenting reports shall be included in the panel report.
- The chair of the panel shall promptly deliver its report, recommendation, and original audio recording to the provost, with a copy of the report and recommendation provided to the faculty member, the dean, and the chair of the Faculty Senate. The panel's report and recommendation should be delivered to the provost within 10 calendar days following completion of its review and not later than 30 calendar days from the appointment of the panel. The provost may extend these deadlines for good reason.
- Provost's Decision: The provost shall review the advisory recommendation of the faculty panel, confer with the chair of the panel, make a decision, and communicate that decision in writing to the faculty member, the panel members, the chair of the Faculty Senate, and the dean.
- Grievance: The faculty member may appeal the provost's decision in accordance with and subject to the grievance procedures established by the Faculty Senate bylaws (http://www.virginia.edu/facultysenate). He or she may seek in this appeal appropriate relief, including reinstatement and/or reasonable back pay, excluding attorneys' fees or an award of damages. Upon request of the chair of the Faculty Senate Grievance Committee, the provost will provide the Committee with a copy of the panel’s report and the audio recording. The faculty member may have access to the audio recording on reasonable request for review and/or to transcribe such portions as he or she may wish, provided the audio recording shall at all times remain in the custody of the provost or the chair of the Faculty Senate Grievance Committee.
- No Waiver or Delegation: Nothing in these procedures or elsewhere shall be interpreted as a waiver or delegation of management responsibility, imposed by the laws of Virginia, for the affairs and operations of the University.
- Changes in Procedures: These procedures are subject to change at any time upon notice from the provost; provided that any change shall not apply to proceedings pending before a faculty panel appointed hereunder.
- Designations: Whenever the provost, dean, or chair of the Faculty Senate is mentioned in these procedures, such reference includes their designees or other appropriate persons with authority. In the event that the faculty member is employed in a unit other than a school of the University, the director or other responsible officer of the unit may serve in the capacity of the dean for purposes of this policy.
- Notice: Notice shall be effective when a written or other document is hand delivered to the person or received in the mail (including email at the address reflected in University records) by the intended recipient within the time provided in these procedures.