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Faculty Handbook-Appendix B: Review of Recommendations for Termination for Cause of a Tenured Faculty Member or of a Faculty Member Whose Term of Appointment Has Not Expired

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This appendix of the Faculty Handbook describes procedures for termination for cause of a tenured faculty member or of a faculty member whose term of appointment has not expired.
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Appendix B
Review of Recommendations for Termination for Cause of a Tenured Faculty Member or of a Faculty Member Whose Term of Appointment Has Not Expired

Note: For purposes of this appendix, the terms “parties” or “party” refer to persons directly involved in the termination or hearing, normally the faculty member and the administration.

I. Initiation of Proceedings

Formal proceedings for termination for cause are initiated by the Provost’s sending to the faculty member, by certified mail, a letter containing a statement of the charge(s) against the faculty member and a statement of intent to terminate based on those charges. Although the faculty member may wish to appeal the termination as a “grievance,” once the Provost has decided to terminate, the termination proceeding shall supersede, and shall make void, any grievance hearing on the same issue. The letter from the Provost to the faculty member being terminated shall include the following information:

  1. A statement of intent to terminate that details the specific charge(s) against the faculty member, written with sufficient detail to enable the charged faculty member to show factual error if it exists
  2. A statement that the faculty member has a right to a hearing before an impartial faculty committee (see Section IV below)
  3. A tentative date for the hearing, at least thirty calendar days after receipt of the statement of intent to terminate
  4. Names of witnesses who may be called by the administration, a brief statement of the nature of the testimony of each witness, and identification of other evidence to be offered in support of the charge(s)
  5. A statement that hearing procedures are contained in the Faculty Handbook and Policies.

II. Response

Within 30 calendar days after receipt of the letter of Intent to Terminate from the Provost, the charged faculty member must respond to the Provost, in writing, indicating (1) a response to the charge(s) stated in the Provost’s letter, (2) a decision about whether he or she elects to have a formal hearing of the charge(s) before a faculty committee, (3) the names of witnesses who may be called on behalf of the charged faculty member, (4) a brief statement of the nature of the testimony of each witness, and (5) a summary of other evidence believed to have relevance to the charge(s) to be heard.

If the faculty member does not respond within 30 calendar days as indicated above or elects not to have a formal hearing of the charge(s) before a faculty committee, the Provost may proceed with a termination recommendation to the President. The decision of the President is final.

III. Suspension

Suspension of the faculty member during the proceedings is justified only if continuance of the faculty member is believed likely to result in (a) risk of harm to the faculty member or others; (b) an immediate health hazard; (c) endangerment of federal funds or equipment; or (d) risk of immediate danger to the interests of person(s) making allegations, the individuals who are the subject of the allegations, or to others. Suspension can be effected only by the Provost, and salary shall continue during the suspension unless legal considerations prohibit.

IV. The Hearing Committee

The initial roster for the Hearing Committee shall be appointed by the Provost within thirty days of the faculty member’s request for a hearing. The initial roster shall consist of the next seven faculty members of the UAB-wide Grievance and Termination Hearing Panel who do not hold primary appointments in the department, school, or library of the charged faculty member.

Faculty members who are asked to serve on a Hearing Committee must recuse themselves if they believe that they cannot, for any reason, fairly and impartially consider the facts of the case to be heard. The Provost may strike or excuse any individual who has a demonstrable conflict of interest or bias. Within seven days of receiving the list of committee members, the faculty member affected must request the removal of two members from a final group of seven (without having to show cause) so that the final Hearing Committee consists of the remaining five members. Individuals who are recused, excused, or struck will be replaced by the next in line on the roster. The final Hearing Committee will consist of five faculty members. If the five-member Hearing Committee is unable to carry out its duties in a timely fashion, the Provost must impanel another committee as specified above.

The five-member Hearing Committee shall elect its own chair. Deans, library directors, and department chairs will be expected to ensure that Hearing Committee members from their units are allowed sufficient time to participate in the hearing process. The Provost shall designate a faculty member to serve as a non-voting facilitator to the committee.

The Hearing Committee shall be responsible for the conduct of the hearing and shall establish and enforce procedures to be used at the hearing.

V. Procedure

The Hearing Committee shall consider only the formal charge(s), as stated by the Provost to the faculty member in the letter of “Intent to Terminate.” The administration shall have the burden of offering to the Hearing Committee such witnesses and/or other evidence that supports the termination for cause.

  1. Pre-hearing

The Hearing Committee may hold pre-hearing meetings with or without the party(ies) present to (1) simplify the issues; (2) determine the rules of procedure and evidence to be used; (3) provide for the exchange and review of documentary or other information; (4) determine the witnesses to be called; and (5) achieve such other appropriate pre-hearing objectives as will make the hearing fair, effective, and expeditious. Both sides must provide the committee with any evidence that is requested and available.

  1. Hearing

The Hearing Committee hearing shall be governed by the following rules and regulations:

    1. The Hearing Committee shall set the day and time of the hearing and all continuances of the hearing. The hearing session(s) shall be private and confidential and only those directly involved shall be included in the hearing(s).
    2. A verbatim record of the hearing shall be made by the facilitator of the Hearing Committee who shall make copies available to the administration and to the faculty member, upon request, once the hearing is completed. The Hearing Committee may use the verbatim record during preparation of its report. The records shall be open for inspection by all parties.
    3. During the proceedings, the charged faculty member and the administration may each have an advisor present, but the advisors may not take an active role in the proceedings unless the Hearing Committee believes that such participation is necessary for a fair hearing and requests an advisor to take an active role. The active participation of the advisor shall be limited to that permitted by the Hearing Committee.
    4. At the request of either party or the Hearing Committee, a representative of an educational association of which the charged faculty member is a member shall be permitted to attend the hearing(s) as an observer.
    5. The burden of proof that adequate cause for termination exists rests with the institution and must be supported by the evidence presented.
    6. The faculty member shall be afforded reasonable time to obtain necessary witnesses and documents or other evidence requested by the committee. The parties shall cooperate with the Hearing Committee in making available documentary and other evidence. It is the responsibility of each party to secure the participation of the witnesses for its side. The administration shall ensure that witnesses from the faculty and administrative units are afforded appropriate time for these duties. UAB will not be responsible for covering travel expenses of witnesses.
    7. During the hearing, the Hearing Committee shall determine the order of proof, shall conduct the questioning of witnesses, and, if necessary, shall request and secure evidence deemed pertinent by the committee. At all times, the committee, through its chair, shall be in charge of the hearing and is responsible for maintaining order.
    8. The Provost or his/her designee shall be responsible for responding to questions that arise concerning the administration’s charges against the faculty member.
    9. The charged faculty member and the administration shall have, through established committee procedures, the right to question all witnesses. In cases in which a witness cannot or will not appear but in which the Hearing Committee determines that the interests of fairness require the witness’ statement, the Hearing Committee shall identify the witness(es), shall disclose the statement, and, if possible, shall question the witness(es) through methods other than having them appear in person.
    10. The Hearing Committee will not be bound by rules of evidence and may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues involved. A reasonable effort shall be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available. If deemed necessary, the Hearing Committee may call additional witnesses.
    11. The Hearing Committee may grant adjournments to either party to enable investigation of any “new” evidence that is presented.
    12. The Hearing Committee, in its discretion, may allow brief opening and closing statements by both the administration and the charged faculty member.
    13. The decision of the Hearing Committee shall be based on the record of the Hearing as a whole.
    14. Except for such simple announcements as may be required (for example, the time of the hearing), all deliberations of, and information provided to, the Hearing Committee shall be considered confidential.

VI. Committee Decision

After the hearing is concluded, the Hearing Committee shall meet to reach a decision. Within thirty calendar days after the hearing is concluded, the Hearing Committee must report in writing to the Provost whether or not the charge(s) were supported by the evidence in the record and shall recommend termination or retention. Within fifteen working days of receiving the Hearing Committee’s report, the Provost must forward to the President the committee’s recommendation along with the committee’s report. The report from the committee shall remain confidential, except as required by law.

VII. President’s Decision

The President may consider the Provost’s recommendation, evidence that was presented during the hearing, and the recommendation of the committee. The President must notify the faculty member, with copies to the Provost and the members of the Hearing Committee, of his/her decision within fifteen working days of receiving the committee’s report and recommendation as forwarded by the Provost. If the President does not implement the recommendations of the Hearing Committee, the reasons for not doing so must be included in the letter of notification. The decision of the President is final.