Grievance Procedures

     Faculty members should try to resolve grievances informally through discussions with their chair, the appropriate dean or executive vice president, and the Provost. They may also go to the University Ombuds Officer for counseling on a confidential basis. With the consent of both parties, the Ombuds Officer will also seek to mediate an informal resolution to their disagreement. However, the Ombuds Officer is not authorized to conduct formal investigations. Faculty members may contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action if they believe they have been subjected to discrimination or discriminatory harassment.

     While faculty are encouraged to try to resolve their complaints informally, they may elect instead to have them evaluated through a grievance hearing. They may also seek a grievance hearing when their complaints cannot be settled through informal means. The procedures faculty should follow will depend upon the nature of their complaints.

Faculty Affairs Committee of the University Senate

     As provided in Section §73b of the University Statutes, the Committee on Faculty Affairs, Academic Freedom, and Tenure of the University Senate investigates grievances from faculty members who have been denied tenure or are not being reappointed in nontenured rank when they allege that discrimination or violation of academic freedom significantly contributed to the decision. A grievance based on discrimination will only be heard when a denial of tenure or non-reappointment in a nontenured rank decision is made on the basis of any of the protected classes set forth in the University’s Non-Discrimination Statement and Policy. (See Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policies in Chapter 2.) In addition, the Committee will investigate allegations that the procedures followed in reaching a decision not to reappoint in a nontenured rank or to deny tenure were defective or did not take into account student opinion of the faculty member’s teaching abilities. These are the only grounds on which the Faculty Affairs Committee will recognize a challenge to such a decision. Upon completion of its investigation, the Committee will forward its recommendations to the Provost who makes final decisions regarding all faculty grievances.

     When a grievance arises from a negative tenure decision, the faculty member must submit the grievance to the Faculty Affairs Committee within 90 working days after being informed of the decision. For the purpose of determining this and other periods of time in these grievance procedures, “working days" exclude Saturdays, Sundays, University holidays, and the period between Commencement and Labor Day.

     The complaint should take the form of a written statement summarizing the reasons for the grievance. The faculty member may amend the complaint at any time prior to the completion of the grievance proceeding. When the Committee decides that a complaint is grievable, it conducts an investigation and submits a report to the Provost with its recommendations within 60 working days of receiving the initial written complaint. The Provost may grant extensions of that deadline in unusual circumstances.

     Faculty who receive notice of nonrenewal after a negative decision on their nomination to tenure are not automatically entitled to any additional period of appointment beyond the date specified in the letter of nonrenewal by virtue of filing a grievance. However, the University Statutes permit the Provost to grant a one-year extension to the individual if 1) the faculty member has submitted a grievance relating to the tenure decision to the Faculty Affairs Committee of the University Senate, 2) the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee has conducted an investigation and recommended that the Provost permit a second review, and 3) the Provost has accepted the Committee’s recommendation. The sole purpose for this statutory provision is to allow for a new tenure review. It may not be used for any other reason.

     To facilitate the Committee’s evaluation of grievances while minimizing the disclosure of confidential information about tenure reviews, the Committee and the Provost have agreed upon the following procedures:

  • Upon accepting a grievance, the chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee provides the Provost with a copy of the faculty member’s written complaint.
  • The chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, with the approval of its members, establishes an investigating subcommittee consisting exclusively of tenured faculty. Generally, the subcommittee is drawn from the members of the Committee.
  • The investigating subcommittee provides the Provost with a list of questions outlining the information it requires. Within 15 working days of receiving the list, the Provost, and when appropriate, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs who administers the tenure review system, meets with the subcommittee to answer those and any other questions it may have about the grievance.
  • While the subcommittee is not given confidential documents, the Provost and the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs will confirm whether documents exist and describe their contents if either is necessary for the subcommittee to complete its investigation. They also will provide the subcommittee with other confidential information relevant to the grievance.
  • If the subcommittee needs clarification or further information after its initial interview, it may ask for further meetings with the Provost and the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.
  • The subcommittee only interviews the Provost and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. It does not speak with members of the Tenure Review Advisory Committee, the witnesses who testified before the committee, or any other individuals involved with the tenure review.

     Upon completing its investigation, the subcommittee submits a report to the tenured members of the Faculty Affairs Committee who meet in executive session to discuss the subcommittee’s findings, decide upon their recommendations to the Provost, and agree upon the contents of their report to the grievant.

     The Faculty Affairs Committee’s review of a grievance over a negative decision on a nomination to tenure is conducted in accordance with the rules of confidentiality that govern the tenure review process as provided in the tenure guidelines. The investigating subcommittee shares information it has acquired with other tenured members of the Committee only to the extent necessary to permit them to make an informed decision on the grievance and only after obtaining their commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the information. No one other than the tenured members of the Committee is given access to any of the confidential information obtained by the investigating subcommittee, including the grievant who is, however, informed of the Committee’s recommendations to the Provost.

      The Faculty Affairs Committee will also follow these procedures in the case of grievances over tenure decisions in the School of Law, where the tenured faculty serve as the equivalent of the Tenure Review Advisory Committee. The investigating subcommittee may, at its discretion, interview the dean and the appropriate member of the dean’s staff. Those individuals will cooperate with the subcommittee in the same manner as the Provost and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs when handling grievances over negative decisions on a nomination to tenure.

     Responsibility for investigating grievances concerning the denial of tenure, other than those arising from reviews by the Tenure Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) or its Law School equivalent, is also assigned to a subcommittee consisting of tenured faculty. On completing its investigation, the subcommittee presents its findings to the tenured members of the Faculty Affairs Committee, who review and modify them as they consider appropriate. Once they have adopted a report on such a grievance, their recommendations are forwarded to the Provost, and copies are sent to all of the involved parties. The Faculty Affairs Committee follows similar procedures in the case of grievances over the failure to reappoint in a nontenured rank, except that the investigating subcommittee may include nontenured faculty and its report is reviewed by the full membership of the Committee.

     If a grievance concerning a decision not to reappoint in a nontenured rank or not to promote to tenure cannot be resolved by the Faculty Affairs Committee and the Committee finds that there are substantial grounds for believing that a violation of academic freedom or discrimination has occurred, it may provide for a formal hearing under the procedures contained in Section §75 of the University Statutes.

     The Faculty Affairs Committee is the appropriate forum for hearing other types of faculty complaints, with the exceptions noted below, concerning their academic appointments, when it attempts to mediate the dispute if it receives the consent of all of the involved parties.

Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

     The Faculty Affairs Committee does not normally review disputes about salary. Faculty who believe that their compensation has been unfairly set due to discrimination or discriminatory harassment may file a complaint with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Depending upon the allegations set forth in the complaint, EOAA will determine whether an investigation is warranted. If an investigation is warranted and upon completion of such an investigation, EOAA will submit a report to the Provost, who will make the final decision.

     Faculty with salary complaints that do not involve allegations of discrimination or discriminatory harassment may approach the Provost directly for a review of their compensation but only after they have sought a resolution to their complaints with their chair and dean or executive vice president.

     Faculty who feel they have been discriminated against or have been subjected to discriminatory harassment in situations that do not involve a decision on the renewal of a nontenured appointment or promotion to tenure may also file a complaint with EOAA. Such complaints will be reviewed in accordance with EOAA Policies & Procedures.

Next Section: Officers of Research

Updated October 28, 2022