FACULTY DISCIPLINE POLICY

Policy Number: 
15.1.33
Date Issued: 
10/01
Applicability: 
FACULTY

1. Introduction:

The UNT Faculty Handbook, Section II: Personnel Policies and Procedures for Faculty Members and Librarians, B. “Academic Freedom and Faculty Responsibility” provides an overview of several faculty employment-related policies and emphasizes the importance of faculty to act responsibly.

In order for these freedoms [i. e. constitutional freedoms, together with freedom to learn and to teach what scholarship suggests is the truth, to question generally accepted tenets, and to publish without fear of reprisal what scholarship has discovered gives vitality to the university] to endure within the academic environment, however, a concomitant dedication to academic responsibility is also essential.  The academic community, which asks protection from outside interfer­ence in order to perform its mission, cannot tolerate actions by its own members that hinder or make less effective the carrying out of that mission.

The right to these freedoms and the demands of academic responsibility apply equally to all those who teach at the University of North Texas, tenured or non-tenured, full time or part time.    [Faculty Handbook, Sec. II, B].

The term “faculty member” in this policy includes persons with faculty or librarian appointments.

Other UNT employment policies related to faculty may also be related to this policy.  For example: In cases of employment offenses or misconduct alleged to involve acts of discrimination, including sexual harassment, refer to Policy # 1.3.7 and 1.3.19 and the procedures set forth in Policy # 1.3.24. This Discipline Policy is used as a guide for determining appropriate sanctions.   [This duplicates a statement found on page 3]  UNT employment policies include, but are not limited to:

  1. Policy Statement on Academic Freedom, Responsibility and Tenure (Policy 15.1.1)
  2. Ethics (Policy 1.2.9)
  3. Post Tenure Review (Policy 15.1.2.4)
  4. Dual Employment Policy (1.2.2)
  5. Non-discrimination/Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Non Retaliation (Policy 1.3.7)
  6. Sexual Harassment Policy (Policy1.3.19)
  7. Voluntary Alternative Dispute Resolution (Policy1.7.5)
  8. Information and Procedures for Pursuing and Resolving a Complaint of Discrimination, Including Sexual Harassment (Policy1.3.24)
  9. Consensual Relationships (1.3.23)
  10. Use of Alcohol (1.2.10)
  11. Illegal Drugs/Alcohol (1.2.12)
  12. Drug Free Workplace (16.6.1)

The concept of progressive discipline acknowledges that a faculty member may be guilty of an employment offense or misconduct that, while serious, does not necessarily justify dismissal and/or loss of tenure.  (A faculty member’s activities that fall outside the scope of employment shall constitute misconduct only if such activities adversely affect the legitimate interests of the University.)   Examples of such employment offenses or misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  1. Neglect of duty or responsibilities, including unauthorized absence, which impairs teaching, research or other normal and expected services to the University
  2. Failure to perform the terms of employment for reasons other than documented illness or injury  
  3. Willful violation of the rules and regulations of the Board of Regents, and/or the University or of federal or state laws.
  4. Conduct, professional or personal, involving moral turpitude
  5. Violation of the ethics of the academic profession.
  6. Action(s) that results in preventing other members of the University community from fulfilling their responsibilities or that create a clear and present danger to members of the University community. 

2.  Discipline Sanctions Options:

 Sanctions are disciplinary actions imposed on an individual that may include punishment or other corrective actions.  Sanctions for university employees may include, but are not specifically limited, to reprimand, remediation, restitution, reassignment of duties or reassignment of workspace, ineligibility for pay raises or travel funds, suspension and dismissal.   In some instances the faculty member may be placed on leave of absence until final action is taken.

Sanctions may extend from mild to severe and from informal to formal.  In cases of employment offenses or misconduct, a range of sanctions short of dismissal should be available.  This range of sanctions from minor to major constitutes progressive discipline.

However, the imposition of any sanction must be regarded as a serious disciplinary step and even a first offense may warrant the most extreme penalty and loss of tenure.

Any sanctions imposed must be selected to meet the severity, the frequency, and/or flagrant nature of the infraction.

Appropriate sanctions may include, but are not limited to the randomized list below. These sanctions do not appear in hierarchical order.

  1. Reassignment to other duties
  2. Oral reprimand
  3. Reassignment of workspace
  4. Restitution
  5. Loss of tenure and/or dismissal
  6. Written reprimand
  7. Placement of the faculty member under direct supervision of the Chair/Dean with a specific plan for remediation and for a specific period of time
  8. Loss of summer teaching employment for those on less than twelve month contracts
  9. Loss of perquisites or of privileges of rank for a stated period, not to exceed two years
  10. Loss of merit raises for a period not to exceed one year
  11. Reduction in salary for a period of one year.  The reduction will take place with the next academic year.
  12. Reduction in rank with loss of salary not to exceed the prevailing promotional increment.  This action in no way abrogates tenure.
  13. Suspension with or without pay
  14. Reduction in contract period.

In cases of employment offenses or misconduct alleged to involve acts of discrimination, including sexual harassment, refer to Policy # 1.3.7 and 1.3.19 and the procedures set forth in Policy # 1.3.24. This Discipline Policy is used as a guide for determining appropriate sanctions.

3. Procedures:

These procedures must be followed when a faculty member is alleged to have committed an employment offense or misconduct, other than discrimination.   If, however, the Chair regards the alleged employment offense or misconduct as one that warrants only an oral reprimand, the Chair may follow these procedures at his or her discretion.

The procedures listed below are to be followed in sequence:

  • The Chair notifies the Dean in writing of the alleged offense or misconduct.  This notification includes which policies/procedures may have been violated with supporting evidence.
  • The Chair and Dean notify the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.  This notification includes which policies/procedures may have been violated with supporting evidence.
  • The Chair, Dean, and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs consult with the Office of the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, who verifies all facts related to the alleged offense or misconduct.
  • The Chair notifies the faculty member in writing of the alleged offense or misconduct, clearly identifying which policies/procedures may have been violated with supporting evidence.
  • The faculty member is given an opportunity to respond both orally and in writing to the allegations and any evidence prior to any determination of culpability.
  • If the faculty member chooses to respond, the response must normally be made within ten (10) working days to the Chair.
  • The Chair reviews the faculty member’s response (if any was made), his/her past performance and employment record, as well as gathering any additional information prior to determining if a sanction is warranted.
  • Normally within ten (10) working days after receiving the faculty member's response, the Chair notifies the Dean of the response and includes his or her recommendations regarding the alleged offense or misconduct. If warranted, the Chair's recommendation may include an appropriate sanction. Resolution of the matter may occur at this point.
  • The Dean consults with the Office of the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and notifies the faculty member and the Chair of the sanction (if any) to be imposed.  Notification is normally given within fifteen (15) working days.
  • The faculty member is given ten (10) days to respond both orally and in writing to the Dean before any sanction(s) becomes effective.   The response should indicate any intention to appeal the recommended sanction(s) to the College/School Grievance Committee.

When a Chair is alleged to have committed an employment offense or misconduct, the Dean will follow the above procedures fulfilling the Chair’s duties and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will act in the Dean's role.   When a Dean is alleged to have committed an employment offense or misconduct, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will follow the above procedures fulfilling the Chair’s duties and the President will act in the Dean’s role.

Depending upon the severity of the alleged offense or misconduct, the President or the President’s designee may immediately place a faculty member on leave with pay pending an investigation of alleged misconduct or other employment offense.   The leave pending investigation shall commence immediately upon the President or designee providing the faculty member with a written notice of the reasons.  The leave shall be with pay, with no reduction of accrued leave.

If, as a result of the investigation, the faculty member is to be suspended or terminated, written notice shall be given to the faculty member.   In all cases the faculty member will be given an opportunity to respond within ten (10) working days before any sanction(s) become(s) effective.  The response may be made both orally and in writing to all allegations and evidence.

4. Appeal of Recommended Sanctions:

Faculty may appeal the Dean's recommended sanctions to College/School Grievance Committee.  Resolution of the matter may occur at this point.  If the matter is not resolved and the sanctions are imposed by the Dean, the faculty member may appeal to the University Review Committee or in cases of dismissal or the revocation of tenure to the University Tenure Committee.  Appeals to the University Review Committee are governed by policy 15.1.4, The University of North Texas Review Committee Charter and Bylaws.  Appeals to the University Tenure Committee are governed by the Faculty Handbook, Sec. IV Faculty and University Governance, C. University Tenure Committee.  The Committee may recommend acceptance, modification or rejection of the findings and/or sanctions.

5. Record Retention:

Unless otherwise required by law or university employment policies, records retention will follow the university’s Records Retention.  In all cases, access to complaint and investigation records is strictly limited to the accused faculty member and those university officials directly investigating or adjudicating a complaint or implementing a complaint resolution, unless otherwise compelled by law or university policy.