Faculty Disciplinary Actions-University Policies - Carnegie Mellon University

Excerpted from Appointment and Tenure Policy

Dismissal for Cause and Other Sanctions

Dismissal for Cause

A person holding a faculty appointment with or without indefinite tenure may be dismissed for cause from employment by the university only on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. substantial neglect of duties;
  2. demonstrable incompetence;
  3. moral turpitude;
  4. violation of the criminal law that places the institution or members of the university community in jeopardy;
  5. persistent and willful violation of standards of faculty conduct; these standards are set forth in the subsection on Standards of faculty conduct of the section of this Policy entitled Principles.

To dismiss a faculty member for cause, there must be concurrent findings by the president and the duly constituted Faculty Review Committee (as provided for in the section of this Policy entitled Faculty Review Committee) that this action is justified on one or more of the grounds listed above, and these findings must have been arrived at by following in good faith the procedures prescribed in the subsection on Procedure of the present section of this Policy. For the dismissal to become effective, these findings must be concurred in and approved by the Board of Trustees.

Should the charges aimed at the dismissal for cause of a faculty member appear to the president to involve gross misconduct, meaning that they are of such gravity and of such a nature as to render the person unfit for continuing association with students, or to constitute an immediate and substantial danger to life or to property of the university or of members of the university community, the president may, at the time he or she initiates the process aiming at dismissal by formulating those charges or at any later time during the process, suspend the faculty member with pay.

A dismissal becomes effective when notice of the final decision of the Board of Trustees is given to the dismissed faculty member by the president in writing by first-class mail to his or her last known home address. The dismissed faculty member shall continue to receive his or her salary, at the rate in effect immediately before the date of the decision of the Board of Trustees, until the earliest of: (a) the date on which the term of appointment then in effect would have expired (if the appointment was one without indefinite tenure); (b) the expiration of one twelve-month year from the date of the decision by the Board of Trustees; (c) the commencement of other employment. If, however, the president and the Faculty Review Committee, in concurring in the finding that dismissal is appropriate, agree that gross misconduct by the faculty member (as defined above) has been established, and the Board of Trustees concurs, the dismissed faculty member shall not be entitled to receive any salary after the dismissal has become effective.

Sanctions

Sanctions other than dismissal may be imposed on a faculty member only on the same grounds listed in the subsection on Dismissal for cause of the present section of this Policy, or for knowingly committed violations of standards of faculty conduct that are not of such gravity or of such a nature as to merit dismissal. Such sanctions shall be imposed by the president with the concurrence of the Faculty Review Committee after following in good faith the procedures prescribed in the subsection on Procedure of the present section of this Policy.

Sanctions that may be imposed in this manner include, but are not limited to: reduction in salary; embargo on the consideration of salary increases for a specified period of time; prohibition of proposing, through the university, some or all sponsored research or other grants for a specified period of time; censure; public apology to the university community. A sanction consisting in excluding a faculty member without indefinite tenure from consideration for reappointment or promotion at the expiration of the current term of appointment or from consideration for tenure requires, in addition, the approval of the Board of Trustees.

The imposition of a sanction is not a subject of public announcements, as provided for in the subsection on Publicity of the present section of this Policy. When the very nature of the sanction requires disclosure (e.g., censure, public apology), the disclosure shall be made only to the extent strictly required. However, the fact that a sanction has been imposed, and the grounds therefor, documented by the final Faculty Review Committee report in which the Committee concurred in the relevant finding, shall be made known to those directly participating in any appointment or tenure decision process for the sanctioned faculty member, and the nature and the gravity of the established charges leading to the sanction are a legitimate consideration in formulating recommendations regarding the appointment or tenure decision as well as in making the decision itself.

Procedure

Initiation

A procedure aimed at dismissing a faculty member for cause or at imposing other sanctions on him or her shall be initiated only by the president after consultation with the appropriate department head(s) and dean(s), and with one or more university officers.

The decision of the president to initiate the procedure may be preceded in some cases, when permitted or required under policies established by the university, by a formal process of inquiry, or of inquiry and investigation.

The president shall initiate the procedure by communicating to the faculty member in writing a summary statement of the grounds on which a dismissal for cause or the imposition of another sanction is sought, as well as the specific nature of the proposed sanction, and advising the faculty member of the procedure to be followed and of the options available to him or her.

Suspension

If the evidence leading the president to initiate a procedure for the dismissal for cause of a faculty member appears to the president to involve gross misconduct, as defined in the subsection on Dismissal for cause of the present section of this Policy, the president may, when initiating the procedure or at any later time during the procedure, suspend the faculty member with pay. The suspension shall become effective upon notification in writing to the faculty member. The Faculty Review Committee shall be informed of the suspension. A suspension may be revoked by the president at any time. If not revoked earlier, a suspension shall remain in effect until the final disposition of the initiated procedure.

Ad-Hoc Committee

Immediately after the president has initiated the procedure for dismissal for cause or for other sanctions, the chair of the Faculty Organization shall, at the request of the president, appoint an Ad-Hoc Committee charged with rendering confidential advice regarding the substance of the initiated procedure. However, the faculty member, upon being notified of the initiation of the procedure, may waive in writing the appointment of the Ad-Hoc Committee; in that case the procedure continues at once with the formal statement of charges, as provided for below.

The Ad-Hoc Committee shall consist of three members, who shall be current or retired regular faculty members of Carnegie Mellon University who are or have been members of a University Committee on Faculty Appointments and who hold no administrative appointment nor are currently members of the Faculty Review Committee.

The Ad-Hoc Committee shall immediately carry out an informal inquiry into the matter giving rise to the initiated procedure, with a view to exploring the possibility of an adjustment. It may make recommendations on such an adjustment to the president and the faculty member; such recommendations are not binding. The Committee shall have thirty days, from the date of its appointment, to carry out this part of its function, but the president and the faculty member may agree to an extension of not more than fifteen days.

If no adjustment is recommended or, if one is recommended, it is not accepted by the president and the faculty member, the Ad-Hoc Committee may make a recommendation to the president on the advisability of pursuing the initiated procedure, as well as on the nature of the proposed sanction; but the Ad-Hoc Committee may also decline to make such a recommendation. The proceedings of the Ad-Hoc Committee must be completed no more than sixty days after the initiation of the procedure by the president.

Any recommendation made by the Ad-Hoc Committee shall be communicated to the president, the faculty member and the Faculty Review Committee.

Exceptions

Certain university policies permit or require a formal investigation of allegations of faculty conduct that, under the provisions of the present section of this Policy, may be grounds for dismissal for cause or other sanctions. Any such policy may specify conditions under which, after such an investigation of a faculty member's conduct, a decision by the president to initiate against that faculty member the procedure for dismissal for cause or for other sanctions shall not be followed by the appointment of an Ad-Hoc Committee under the preceding provisions.

When these conditions are satisfied, the president shall record that fact in the communication to the faculty member that initiates the procedure. The president may then proceed, not earlier than seven days nor later than fifteen days after initiating the procedure, with the formal statement of charges, as provided for below.

Statement of Charges

Within the time prescribed in the immediately preceding paragraph when the provision under the heading "Exceptions" above applies, and otherwise within fifteen days of the completion of the proceedings of the Ad-Hoc Committee, or if the communication to the president of the faculty member's waiver of the appointment of an Ad-Hoc Committee, the president, if he or she has decided to continue the initiated procedure, shall communicate to the faculty member in writing a statement of charges, which is a formal statement specifying the grounds upon which dismissal for cause or the imposition of sanctions is sought, the particular charges made on those grounds, the proposed disposition (dismissal for cause or another specific sanction), the detailed procedure to be followed and the procedural rights accorded to the faculty member.

If the charges in a procedure for dismissal for cause involve gross misconduct, as defined in the subsection on Dismissal for cause of the present section of this Policy, the statement of charges shall include a declaration to this effect, whether the president has, in consequence of these charges, suspended the faculty member or not.

The statement of charges shall in particular inform the faculty member that a hearing on the charges will be conducted by the Faculty Review Committee at a specified time and place. The time of the hearing shall be set no earlier than thirty days nor later than forty-five days after the communication of the statement of charges, unless the chairman of the Faculty Review Committee arranges a reasonable extension of the latter time that is agreeable to the president and the faculty member.

No later than ten days before the date set for the hearing, the faculty member should respond in writing to the statement of charges, in order to answer the charges made there; at that time, the faculty member may also indicate whether he or she waives the holding of the hearing before the Faculty Review Committee.

Faculty Review Committee Procedure

The president shall promptly provide the Faculty Review Committee with the statement of charges and with the faculty member's response to it, and the Committee shall begin its examination of the case by considering these documents. Whether a hearing is to be held or the holding of a hearing is waived by the faculty member, the Faculty Review Committee may request relevant information from any person it considers appropriate, and it shall have access to all the relevant documentation under the control of the university.

If the Faculty Review Committee requests it, the university shall retain independent counsel of the Committee's choice to assist it in conducting its investigation of the case.

If a hearing is to be held, it is the faculty member's privilege to decide whether the hearing shall be private or open to the university community. If any facts are in dispute, the testimony of witnesses and other evidence concerning the charges in the president's statement of charges shall be presented at the hearing.

The president or a university officer of the president's choice may attend the hearing in person, and the president may designate a representative to assist in developing the case. The Faculty Review Committee, however, determines the order of proof, conducts the questioning of witnesses, secures, if necessary, the presentation of relevant evidence and controls the course of the hearing. Neither the president nor any other administrator shall attempt to influence the Faculty Review Committee except through argument openly presented at the hearing or in written documents readily available to the faculty member.

The faculty member shall have the option of assistance by counsel, whose function shall be similar to that of the president's representative. The Faculty Review Committee shall assist the faculty member, if necessary, in securing the attendance of witnesses at the hearing. The faculty member and his or her counsel, as well as the president's representative, shall have the right, within reasonable limits set by the Committee, to question all the witnesses who testify in person at the hearing. The faculty member has the right to be confronted by all witnesses testifying in support of the charges. When a witness is unable to appear at the hearing, a sworn deposition, made in the presence of the faculty member and his or her counsel, who shall have the right to question the witness, may be admitted as evidence. All the evidence admitted shall be duly recorded, and a transcript of the hearing shall be prepared.

Unless special circumstances warrant in the opinion of the Faculty Review Committee, it shall not be necessary to follow formal rules of court procedure at the hearing.

After the Faculty Review Committee has collected all the evidence, whether a hearing has taken place or holding a hearing has been waived, the Committee shall hear oral arguments by the president's representative and by the faculty member and his or her counsel. The Committee may also request written briefs if it regards them as being potentially helpful to its deliberations.

Faculty Review Committee Decision

The Faculty Review Committee shall make its decisions in conference on the basis of the evidence collected and the arguments of the president's representative and of the faculty member and his or her counsel. The Committee may proceed to a decision promptly, without awaiting a transcript of the hearing, if one was held, when the Committee members unanimously agree that the Committee is able to reach a just decision in this way; otherwise, the Committee shall await the availability of a transcript of the hearing.

On each of the charges contained in the president's statement of charges, the Faculty Review Committee shall decide (a) whether it finds that the charge is contained within one or more of the grounds listed in the subsections on Dismissal for cause and Sanctions of the present section of this Policy, and, if so, (b) whether it concurs in the president's finding that the charge has been established. Unless the Committee's decision is affirmative on both points with respect to at least one charge, it shall exonerate the faculty member.

An affirmative decision on any of the points referred to in the preceding paragraph shall be reached if and when agreed on by members equaling or exceeding in number two-thirds of the total number of members participating in the consideration of the case (as determined according to the rules in the subsection on Composition of the section of this Policy entitled Faculty Review Committee).

If the Faculty Review Committee does not exonerate the faculty member, it shall then decide whether it concurs in the disposition proposed by the president, viz., dismissal for cause or some other specific sanction. The Committee may, instead, decide to make a reasoned proposal of a sanction less severe than that proposed by the president, or for a sanction equally severe but, in the Committee's judgment, more appropriate to the case; it may not propose a sanction more severe than that proposed by the president.

If in the statement of charges the president makes a charge of gross misconduct by the faculty member, as defined in the subsection on Dismissal for cause of the present section of this Policy, the Faculty Review Committee, if and when concurring in the finding that one or more of the charges have been established and are properly grounded, shall also decide on whether it agrees that gross misconduct has been established. An affirmative Committee decision on this point necessarily implies concurrence in the president's finding that dismissal for cause is justified.

A decision by the Faculty Review Committee to concur with a proposal by the president to dismiss the faculty member for cause, or a decision to agree that gross misconduct has been established, shall be reached if and when agreed on by members equaling or exceeding in number two-thirds of the total number of members participating in the consideration of the case. Every other Committee decision on sanctions, referred to above, shall be reached if and when agreed on by a majority of the members participating in the consideration of the case.

All the decisions of the Faculty Review Committee required by the preceding provisions shall be recorded, together with a reasoned statement of opinion, in a Faculty Review Committee report that shall be communicated to the president and to the faculty member. Both shall also be provided with a copy of the transcript of the hearing, if one was held.

Appeal for Reconsideration

If the Faculty Review Committee does not exonerate the faculty member, he or she may lodge an appeal for reconsideration. Such an appeal may also be lodged by the president in all circumstances after receiving the Faculty Review Committee report.

For an appeal for reconsideration to be heard, written notice of the intention to appeal must be given to the president and the chairman of the Faculty Review Committee within ten days of the communication of the Faculty Review Committee report, and the appeal itself, with reasons given in detail, must be lodged with the president and the chairman of the Faculty Review Committee within twenty days of the communication of that report.

When notice of the intention to appeal for reconsideration is received, the president shall constitute an Appeal Committee to hear the appeal. The Appeal Committee shall consist of two deans chosen by lot among the deans of the colleges and schools, but excluding the dean of any college or school in which the faculty member holds an appointment; two members appointed by the chair of the Faculty Organization, chosen among those current or retired faculty members of Carnegie Mellon University who are former members of the Faculty Review Committee and do not hold administrative positions; and, to be chairman of the Appeal Committee, a member of the Board of Trustees appointed by the chairman of the Board of Trustees.

When hearing an appeal for reconsideration, the Appeal Committee shall review all the proceedings in the case and shall provide an opportunity for oral or written argument by the president or his or her representative and by the faculty member and his or her counsel. The Appeal Committee has the power to require the Faculty Review Committee to reconsider its decisions on those points and in response to those objections specified by the Appeal Committee. A decision to require reconsideration shall be made only if supported by the votes of at least three members of the Appeal Committee. The decision of the Appeal Committee, whether to require or not to require reconsideration, shall be communicated to the president, the faculty member, and the chairman of the Faculty Review Committee.

When required to reconsider its decisions, the Faculty Review Committee shall proceed to do so by taking into account the stated objections, and receiving new evidence and hearing new argument if necessary. It shall then make its decisions on the reconsidered points by the same procedure as before, and shall record them in an appropriately confirmed or amended report, herein referred to as the final Faculty Review Committee report. The report shall be communicated to the president, the faculty member and the members of the Appeal Committee.

If no appeal for reconsideration is lodged, or if one is lodged but the Appeal Committee does not decide to require reconsideration, the president shall so inform the faculty member, and the Faculty Review Committee report as originally prepared becomes the final Faculty Review Committee report.

Disposition

If the final Faculty Review Committee report exonerates the faculty member, the procedure shall terminate without further action, except as regards the disposition of the records, as provided below.

If the final Faculty Review Committee report records concurrence by the Faculty Review Committee in a finding by the president that dismissal for cause is justified, the president shall submit these concurrent findings to the Board of Trustees for the Board's concurrence and approval. If, in addition, the final Faculty Review Committee report records agreement by the Faculty Review Committee with the president that gross misconduct by the faculty member has been established, the president shall also submit this agreement to the Board for the Board's concurrence and approval.

In every other case, the final Faculty Review Committee report will record concurrence by the Faculty Review Committee in a finding by the president that at least one of the charges in the statement of charges has been established and is properly grounded, and the report will either agree with the president's proposal for a specific sanction other than dismissal for cause, or else will propose a sanction less severe than that proposed by the president (which latter may even have been dismissal for cause) or one equal in severity to that proposed by the president. In each case, the president shall then impose the less severe of the sanctions proposed by him or her and by the Faculty Review Committee; if they are of equal severity, the president shall impose whichever of the two proposed sanctions he or she considers more appropriate. When a sanction to be imposed requires, however, the approval of the Board of Trustees under the provisions of the subsection on Sanctions of the present section of this Policy, the president shall impose this sanction only after obtaining that approval.

If the disposition of the case requires the approval of the Board of Trustees, the president's decision to submit the case to the Board shall be communicated at once to the faculty member, to allow him or her to present to the Board, in writing, any arguments he or she considers appropriate to influence the Board's final decision.

When the president submits to the Board of Trustees a decision to dismiss a faculty member for cause, or a decision to impose a sanction that requires the approval of the Board, and the Board does not approve the proposed decision, the president may impose any sanction less severe than the one disapproved by the board (after obtaining the Board's approval if the intended substitute sanction requires it).

In every case in which the final Faculty Review Committee report does not exonerate the faculty member, the president shall report the disposition of the case to the Faculty Review Committee and record that disposition in the records of the case.

Communications and Notifications

All communications and notifications addressed to any person by the president or by the Faculty Review Committee regarding or related to a procedure aimed at the dismissal for cause of, or the imposition of other sanctions on, a faculty member shall be made in writing by first-class mail to the addressee's last known home address.

Records

When the procedure ends with the exoneration of the faculty member, or with an informal agreement before a decision by the Faculty Review Committee, all records of the case under the control of the university, including those under the control of the Faculty Review Committee, shall be destroyed no earlier than thirty nor later than forty-five days after the outcome is communicated to the faculty member. At the faculty member's request, in writing, submitted within fifteen days of receipt of that communication, the president shall address to the faculty member a letter identifying the charges and describing the findings in the final Faculty Review Committee report or the contents of the agreement, as the case may be. This letter shall be available for responsible use at the faculty member's discretion. It shall not be included in the personnel file unless such inclusion is requested, in writing, by the faculty member. The president's letter must be formulated, and used by the recipient, so as to preserve the confidentiality of the process, and shall in particular include only information already disclosed to the faculty member.

If the final Faculty Review Committee report does not exonerate the faculty member, and whatever the final disposition of the case, all records pertaining to the case, with the exception noted below, that are under the control of the university shall be kept only by the Faculty Review Committee, for whatever length of time is necessary to satisfy legal requirements for the protection of the faculty member, the university and all persons participating in the decision leading to that disposition (including witnesses testifying at a hearing or by deposition); but never for less than three years from the date of the final disposition of the case. At the expiration of that length of time, the records shall be destroyed.

If the final disposition of the case is the imposition of a sanction other than dismissal for cause, the following documents pertaining to the case shall be made part of the faculty member's personnel record, and kept there so long as he or she is employed by the university, and destroyed upon the termination of employment: the statement of charges, the final Faculty Review Committee report, and the final decision imposing the sanction.

Publicity

Dismissal for cause of a faculty member is an extreme measure, undertaken only for the protection of the university and of the members of the university community. It is not the purpose of the proceedings leading to this measure to subject the dismissed faculty member to public censure or to compromise unduly the possibility of his or her employment elsewhere. For this reason, hearings are private unless the faculty member decides that they should be open to the university community; nor is any public announcement made of the initiation of the procedure aiming at dismissal for cause, of any later stages of the procedure or of the final disposition of the case, unless the faculty member specifically requests, in writing addressed to the president, that a public announcement be made. Upon such a request, the president shall cause an appropriate announcement to be made to the faculty in a circular or in a faculty bulletin; the announcement of a dismissal for cause shall include summary statements of the charges and of the decisions of the Faculty Review Committee, the president and the Board of Trustees.

The same provisions shall apply, with the obvious necessary adjustments, to procedures aimed at the imposition of sanctions other than dismissal for cause; except that when the nature of the sanction itself requires disclosure (e.g., censure, public apology) the fact that the sanction was imposed and a summary of the established charges shall be disclosed only to the extent strictly necessary. The availability of information on the imposition of a sanction to the persons directly involved in making recommendations on appointment and tenure decisions regarding sanctioned faculty members is provided for in the subsection on Sanctions and in Records in the subsection on Procedure of the present section of this Policy.

If a public statement about a case is made by the faculty member concerned or by any other person while the proceedings are still in progress or after they are concluded, the president shall have the right to a public reply.