4.0 Employment Policies and Procedures for Faculty with Continued Appointment or on the Continued Appointment-Track
4.1 University Libraries Faculty with Continued Appointment or on the Continued Appointment-Track
As the primary means through which students and faculty gain access to the storehouse of organized knowledge, the University Libraries perform a unique and indispensable function in the educational process. In this function, faculty members of the University Libraries share many of the professional concerns of their collegiate colleagues. The university recognizes the need to protect the academic freedom of librarians in their responsibility to ensure the availability of information and ideas, no matter how controversial, so that teachers may freely teach and students may freely learn.
Continued appointment is the extra-collegiate equivalent of tenure. Extra-collegiate faculty in the University Libraries may hold continued appointment or may be on the continued appointment-track; just as college faculty may be tenured or on the tenure-track (see chapter three). Provisions for term appointments during a probationary period are parallel to those for members of the college faculty. Evaluation for continued appointment (in contrast to term appointment) is made no later than the sixth year of such a probationary period.
A University Libraries faculty member with continued appointment will have continued employment until retirement with termination of employment based only on unsatisfactory performance, proof of misconduct, discontinuance or reduction in a segment of the university's research or educational program, or University Libraries reorganization because of changing patterns of University Libraries service or technological advances.
If a position held by a University Libraries faculty member with continued appointment is eliminated or changes to such a degree that the incumbent can no longer fulfill the requirements, every effort will be made to reassign the faculty member to another position. If the position of a University Libraries faculty member with continued appointment is terminated, it will not be re-established and refilled within a period of two years unless the appointment has been offered to and declined by the faculty member who was originally displaced.
Tenure awarded to faculty of the University Libraries before July 1, 1983 continues to be recognized.
To instill the highest professional standards in the University Libraries faculty, procedures for probationary appointment, continued appointment, and promotion for faculty of the University Libraries, including evaluative criteria, have been developed by the Library Faculty Association and the dean of University Libraries. These procedures are contained in Procedures on Promotion and Continued Appointment: University Libraries.
The University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee reviews recommendations for continued appointment and for promotion in rank above the level of assistant professor and makes recommendations to the executive vice president and provost.
4.2 Virginia Cooperative Extension Faculty with Continued Appointment or on the Continued Appointment-Track
Extension faculty, as defined in chapter two, “Virginia Cooperative Extension Faculty with Continued Appointment or on the Continued Appointment-Track,” may or may not hold appointments in the college faculty. They are, nonetheless, subject to high professional standards in the dissemination of knowledge through the Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and in the planning and delivery of educational programs and programs of assistance to industries and local governmental agencies. In these functions, Extension faculty members share many of the professional concerns of their collegiate colleagues, including the need for the protection of academic freedom in these responsibilities.
Continued appointment is the extra-collegiate equivalent of tenure. Extra-collegiate faculty in Extension may hold continued appointment or may be on the continued appointment-track; just as college faculty may be tenured or on the tenure-track (see chapter three). Provisions for term appointments during a probationary period are parallel to those for members of the college faculty. Evaluation for continued appointment (in contrast to term appointment) is made no later than the sixth year of such a probationary period.
An Extension faculty member with continued appointment can expect continued employment until retirement with termination of employment based only on unsatisfactory performance, proof of misconduct, discontinuance or reduction in a segment of the university’s Extension programs, or reorganization because of changing patterns of programming.
If a position held by an Extension faculty member with continued appointment is eliminated or changes to such a degree that the incumbent can no longer fulfill the requirements, every effort will be made to reassign the faculty member to another position. If the position of an Extension faculty member with continued appointment is terminated, it will not be re-established and refilled within a period of two years unless the appointment has been offered to and declined by the displaced faculty member.
Tenure awarded to any member of the Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty before July 1, 1983 continues to be recognized.
Several relevant programmatic units develop standards and procedures for probationary appointments and continued appointment of Extension faculty, including evaluative criteria and procedures for promotion in rank.
The University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee reviews promotions in rank and/or continued appointments and makes recommendations to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
4.3 University Libraries and Extension Faculty Ranks
Specification of faculty rank in the University Libraries or Extension does not imply a particular rank in any collegiate department. University Libraries and Extension faculty may be invited to hold concurrent adjunct status in a collegiate department in order to formally recognize their contributions to the undergraduate or graduate program.
4.3.1 Extra-Collegiate Instructor
The rank of extra-collegiate instructor is for either University Libraries faculty or for Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty on the continued appointment-track whose positions have been designated for continued appointment-track and who have not completed the terminal degree. Annual appointments may be renewed within the limits of a probationary period. Ordinarily, continued appointment would not be awarded at the instructor rank, although time spent at this rank counts in the probationary period leading to continued appointment. A master’s degree or significant professional experience is the minimum expectation for appointment at this rank.
Extra-collegiate Extension instructors who complete their terminal degree may be recommended for promotion to assistant professor by the unit chair with the approval of the director, dean, provost, president, and the Board of Visitors. Extra-collegiate instructors in University Libraries may be recommended for promotion to assistant professor by the dean of University Libraries with the approval of the provost, the president, and the Board of Visitors.
Promotion of University Libraries and Extension faculty to the ranks of associate or full professor is conducted in accordance with procedures in chapter four, “Evaluation Procedures for Promotion and Continued Appointment.”
4.3.2 Assistant Professor
The rank of assistant professor is the usual rank of initial appointment for faculty on the continued appointment-track. Appointment to the rank of assistant professor carries with it professional responsibilities in learning, discovery, and engagement. An assistant professor may be assigned responsibility for teaching graduate courses and for supervising master’s theses and dissertations, as well as serving on graduate student committees. The terminal degree appropriate to the field is expected for appointment to this rank. (Further information regarding appropriate credentials for teaching faculty is in chapter two, “Faculty Credentialing Guidelines,” and on the provost’s website.)
4.3.3 Associate Professor
In addition to the requirements for assistant professor, a person appointed as associate professor must have demonstrated substantial professional achievements by evidence of an appropriate combination of outstanding teaching, creative scholarship, and recognized performance in Extension, outreach, University Libraries, or related academic and professional service.
In addition to the requirements for associate professor, appointment to the rank of professor is contingent upon national recognition as an outstanding scholar and educator.
4.3.5 Emeritus or Emerita Designation
The title of emeritus or emerita is conferred on retired full professors, associate professors, administrative officers, extra-collegiate faculty with continued appointment, and senior Extension agents who have given exemplary service to the university, and who are specifically recommended to the Board of Visitors by the president and approved. Their names are listed on the appropriate university website(s). University Policy 4405, “Emeritus/Emerita Faculty,” provides further guidance for department heads or chairs and retiring faculty members concerning emeriti status and continued involvement with the life of the university.
4.4 Procedures for Appointments with Continued Appointment
An offer of faculty appointment with continued appointment may be made with the review and approval of the department head or chair, the divisional promotion and continued appointment committee, the University Libraries dean or director of Extension, the provost, and the president. Ultimately, final approval rests with the Board of Visitors.
The dean or director forwards the following information to the provost and president for their consideration and decision: the candidate’s application package, including cover letter, curriculum vita, and at least two letters of reference which address the appointment of rank and continued appointment; documentation of the division-level promotion and continued appointment committee’s approval of rank and continued appointment, and concurrence of the dean or director with as much supporting evidence as deemed appropriate; and a brief overview of the search itself—how many candidates applied, were interviewed, and what is the compelling case for the candidate.
In general, faculty recruited from a comparable university should be recommended for a position at Virginia Tech at a similar level with continued appointment. If the recommended appointment involves a promotion or the initial awarding of continued appointment, the case must be strongly justified. If an individual is coming from a university with a less extensive research mission, or a university of lesser stature, the case must also be strongly justified.
4.4.1 Part-Time Continued Appointment and Continued Appointment-Track Appointments
While continued appointment and continued appointment-track appointments are usually full time, Virginia Tech recognizes the importance of allowing flexibility in the percent of employment so that faculty members can better manage the balance between their professional work and family or personal obligations over a defined period of time, or perhaps permanently. This policy is intended to encourage departments to accommodate reasonable requests for part-time appointments; however, part-time appointments are not an entitlement, and requests may be turned down when the faculty member and the department cannot agree upon a workable plan.
When conducting a search for a continued appointment-track position, departments continue to advertise for full-time continued appointment or continued appointment-track positions and must have funding for a full-time hire. Advertisements include information about university policies for flexible appointments. If desired, the faculty member requests and negotiates a part-time appointment at or after the point of hire if acceptable to the department.
Continued appointment-track faculty members may request a part-time appointment only for reasons of balancing work and family such as the arrival or care of a child, the care of a family member, or for personal circumstances related to the health of the faculty member. In addition, they may request a term part-time appointment only (with specific starting and ending dates) allowing the issue to be revisited on a defined cycle. While such term appointments can be renewed throughout the probationary period, a permanent part-time appointment may not be granted until continued appointment is awarded.
Faculty members with continued appointment may request either term or permanent part-time appointments for reasons stated above, or to balance work at Virginia Tech with professional practice or significant community or public service, for example, a professor who wishes to serve as a consultant in addition to an appointment at Virginia Tech; a professor who wishes to engage in entrepreneurial activity outside of university responsibilities; or a professor who runs for public office for a limited term and wishes to reduce the workload at Virginia Tech for that period. Other reasonable justifications may be considered if approved by the department head or chair, University Libraries dean or director of Extension, and provost.
188.8.131.52 Part-Time Term Continued Appointment and Continued Appointment-Track Appointments
Part-time continued appointment and continued appointment-track appointments are either term or permanent. Term part-time appointments are in increments from one semester up to two years. During the duration of a part-time term appointment, terms of the appointment are only changed via the agreement of all parties. A term agreement must specify the date on which the faculty member is expected to return to full-time status. Renewal of a term appointment should be negotiated no less than three months before the end of the current term so that the department can plan accordingly. For term part-time appointments, departments are able to use the salary savings to replace the work of the faculty member on part-time appointment.
Only the faculty member may initiate a request for conversion from full-time to part-time appointment. The reasons for the request for a change in the percentage of appointment should be clearly stated. The department head or chair should make a careful assessment of the needs of the department, and works with the faculty member requesting the part-time appointment to facilitate the request whenever possible. The period for which this part-time appointment is granted shall be clearly stated (renewable terms from one semester up to two years, or permanent).
The written agreement should include a careful and thorough statement of work expectations for the part-time appointment. Generally, faculty members continue to contribute to all areas of responsibility, but with reduced expectations for accomplishment proportional to the fractional appointment. Service responsibilities for faculty members on part-time appointments are generally proportional to their appointments. Faculty members on part-time appointments are not excused from regular departmental, division, or university service because of the part-time appointments.
The written agreement for either an initial appointment or a conversion of a full-time appointment to part-time status and any subsequent renewal requires the approval of the faculty member, department head or chair, University Libraries dean or director of Extension, and provost.
An initial term part-time appointment, either continued appointment or continued appointment-track, may be approved to accommodate a dual career hire if funding is not immediately available to support a full-time position, or if the faculty member seeks a part-time appointment consistent with the intent of this policy. The expectation is that the subsequent reappointment, if recommended, is for a full-time position, unless the faculty member requests a renewal of the term part-time appointment in accordance with these guidelines. A part-time appointment created for a dual career hire is approved through the usual approval processes for dual career hires. (See chapter two, “Dual Career Program.”)
184.108.40.206 Permanent Part-Time Continued Appointment and Continued Appointment-Track Appointments
For permanent part-time continued appointment and continued appointment-track appointments with no end date, a return to a full-time appointment is not guaranteed. If holding continued appointment, the faculty member remains entitled to the continued appointment on the part-time basis only. However, an increase in the percent of the appointment up to full-time may be renegotiated between the faculty member and department head or chair if mutually agreeable and funds are available. The department and the division determine the best way to cover the costs of the work in the case of conversion to a permanent part-time appointment.
Faculty members on part-time appointments, whether term or permanent, retain all rights and responsibilities attendant to their appointment as a continued appointment and continued appointment-track faculty member.
Part-time appointments are made for any fraction 50 percent or greater of a full appointment; faculty members receive proportional salary. Faculty members considering such appointments are strongly encouraged to meet with representatives in the benefits office of the Department of Human Resources to gain a clear understanding of the consequences of the change to their benefits. Office and laboratory space may be adjusted for longer term or permanent part-time appointments.
4.5 Continued Appointment and Promotion
The university has a tradition of upholding academic freedom. It endorses the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” of the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges. Members of the University Libraries faculty and Extension faculty not holding appointments in a collegiate department may be considered for continued appointment or for promotion in faculty rank in recognition of appropriate professional accomplishments as noted in the sections above.
4.5.1 Continued Appointment Eligibility
Like tenure, continued appointment is granted to protect the academic freedom of University Libraries and Extension faculty who are engaged in creating new programs and scholarship. Eligibility for continued appointment consideration is limited to faculty members holding regular faculty appointments of 50 percent to 100 percent in the University Libraries or Virginia Cooperative Extension. Continued appointment is not granted to faculty members with temporary appointments. Individuals holding continued appointment who are subsequently appointed to an administrative position retain the status and privileges of continued appointment.
4.5.2 Pre-Continued Appointment Probationary Period and Progress Reviews
The term “probationary period” (“pre-continued appointment”) is applied to the succession of term appointments, which an individual undertakes on a full- or part-time regular faculty appointment, and during which evaluation for reappointment and for an eventual continued appointment takes place. The beginning of the probationary period for faculty members on term appointments is taken as July 1 or August 10 of the calendar year in which their initial full-time appointment begins, depending on whether they are on a calendar year or academic year appointment, regardless of the month in which their services are initiated. (The probationary period for new faculty appointed for spring semester begins the following fall even though the spring contract period officially begins December 25.)
Under usual circumstances, divisional promotion and continued appointment committees review the professional progress and performance of pre-continued appointment faculty members twice during the probationary period, usually in their second and fourth or third and fifth years. The timing of the reviews depends upon the nature of the faculty member’s discipline and must be clearly indicated in written departmental policies. The terms of offer identifies the initial appointment period. Pre-continued appointment reviews may be delayed if there is an approved extension as described below. Changes or variations in the standard review cycle must be documented in writing.
The initial review for a part-time faculty member should be no later than the third year of service (regardless of percent of employment) to give early feedback on their progress. At least two reviews should be conducted for part-time faculty members during their probationary period; more are recommended. The anticipated schedule for such reviews for appointment and for the mandatory review for continued appointment should be documented in writing as part of the agreement for the part-time appointment. Changes should be agreed upon and documented by the faculty member and the department.
Reviews are substantive and thorough. At a minimum, divisional promotion and continued appointment committees must review the faculty member’s relevant annual faculty activity reports, peer evaluations, and authored materials.
The pre-continued appointment reviews should analyze the faculty member’s progress toward promotion and continued appointment and offer guidance regarding future activities and plans. Pre-continued appointment faculty should be encouraged to develop a narrative about their scholarship goals with special emphasis on the place of their research and creative activity. Although this narrative may change across time, creating the context for their work can assist candidates in understanding how to continue to develop professionally in a national and international context in preparation for promotion and continued appointment. The dean or director, the mentor(s), and the divisional committee should engage in discussions with instructors and assistant professors across the probationary period to encourage professional growth and development of the candidate’s scholarly work.
All reviews must be in writing, with the faculty member acknowledging receipt by signing and returning a copy for his or her division-level file. In addition, the promotion and continued appointment committee and the dean or director meet with the faculty member to discuss the review and recommendations. Individual faculty members are also encouraged to seek guidance and mentoring from senior colleagues. Pre-continued appointment faculty members bear responsibility for understanding division-level expectations for promotion and continued appointment and for meeting those expectations.
The initial appointment for instructors and assistant professors (or those appointed to higher ranks) without continued appointment is ordinarily for a period of not less than two years. Multiple-year reappointments may be subsequently recommended.
The maximum total period for full-time probationary appointments is six years, unless an approved extension is granted. Decision about continued appointment, if not made earlier, is made in the sixth year of the probationary appointment. If the continued appointment decision made in the sixth year is negative, a one-year terminal appointment is offered.
Pre-continued appointment faculty members may request a term part-time appointment as described in chapter four, “Part-Time Continued Appointment and Continued Appointment-Track Appointments,” for reasons of balancing work and family or personal health issues. In such cases, the probationary period is extended proportionately. For example, two years of service at 50 percent counts as one year of full-time service. The term appointment may be renewed. (A permanent part-time appointment may be requested and granted following award of continued appointment.)
In determining the mandatory continued appointment review year for those with partial appointments, general equivalency to full-time appointments is expected, so that approximately five years of full-time equivalent service is expected prior to the mandatory continued appointment review year if no continued appointment clock extensions have been granted; six years if one year of extension is granted, and seven years if two extensions are granted. (In summing partial years of service, a total resulting in a fraction equal to or less than .5 is rounded down, and a fraction greater than .5 is rounded up.) However, review for continued appointment must occur no later than the tenth year of service, resulting in somewhat less full-time equivalent service (4.5 years) for a faculty member with 50 percent appointment throughout all nine probationary years prior to review. If denied continued appointment following a mandatory review, a one-year terminal appointment is offered.
Faculty members on part-time appointments may request a continued appointment clock extension in accordance with procedures described in chapter four, “Extending the Continued Appointment Clock.” (Extensions are granted in one-year increments, not prorated by the part-time appointment percentage.) However, the extension is not approved if it results in a mandatory review date beyond the tenth year.
Up to three years of appropriate service at other accredited American four-year colleges and universities may be credited toward the six-year probationary period, as specified in chapter four, “Guidelines for the Calculation of Prior Service.”
A faculty member on probationary appointment who wishes to request a leave of absence consults with the dean or director about the effect of the leave on the probationary period, taking into account the professional development that the leave promises. The request for leave addresses this matter and the provost’s approval of the leave request specifies whether the leave is to be included in the probationary period.
220.127.116.11 Extending the Continued Appointment Clock
A one-year probationary period extension is automatically granted to either parent (or both, if both parents are continued appointment-track faculty members) in recognition of the demands of caring for a newborn child or a child under five newly placed for adoption or foster care. The request should be made within a year of the child’s arrival in the family.
An extension of the probationary period may also be approved on a discretionary basis for other extenuating non-professional circumstances that have a significant impact on the faculty member’s productivity, such as a serious personal illness or major illness of a member of the immediate family. In rare cases, extraordinary professional circumstances not of the faculty member’s own making may be acceptable justification for a probationary period extension, for example exceptional delays in providing critical equipment, laboratory renovations, or other elements of the committed start-up package essential to establishing a viable research program.
Faculty members who benefit from this policy are expected to fulfill their usual responsibilities during the probationary period extension unless they are also granted a period of modified duties or unless other arrangements are made. (See chapter four, “Modified Duties.”)
Probationary period extensions are granted in one-year increments. A cumulative total of two years is usually the maximum probationary period extension for any combination of reasons. Requests should be made within a year of the qualifying event or extenuating circumstance. The provost may approve exceptions to these limitations.
Requests for a probationary period extension are submitted in writing to the department head or chair. (A form is available on the provost’s website.) Approval is automatic for new parents. Documentation of medical reasons (other than childbirth or adoption) is required prior to approval; documentation of other extenuating circumstances may also be required. Approvals by the department head or chair, dean or director, and provost are required for probationary period extensions. The faculty member may appeal denial of the request to the next higher level in their organizational reporting structure.
It is very important that all individuals and committees participating in continued appointment reviews understand that any individual who receives a probationary period extension must be held to the same standard—not a higher or more stringent one—to which other candidates without such an extension are held. This is also true in the case where the candidate’s dossier is considered on the original schedule for review. However, in this instance where an approved extension was granted but not utilized, the continued appointment review is not considered mandatory and can be conducted again in the subsequent year without penalty. A probationary extension also usually extends the time frame for each subsequent review and reappointment during the probationary period. For example, an extension granted prior to the fourth year review and reappointment typically delays that review by one year.
4.5.3 Guidelines for the Calculation of Prior Service
At the time of a faculty member’s initial appointment to the University Libraries or Extension, the dean or director notifies the new faculty member of his or her standing regarding the continued appointment system. Excepting temporary appointments with limited terms, the faculty appointees are given clear notice of when their appointments will be considered for renewal and, if on the continued appointment-track, when consideration for continued appointment will be given.
In this latter calculation, appropriate full-time service in another accredited four-year American college or university is credited toward probationary service at Virginia Tech only if the appointed faculty member requests such credit.
In such a request, all prior service is presented if undertaken after the faculty member completes the terminal degree appropriate to the field. A maximum of three years may be credited toward probationary service at Virginia Tech. The request must be made in writing within one year of the initial appointment. The specification of credit for prior service toward the probationary period is subject to the approval of the provost on the recommendation of the dean of University Libraries or the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension.
4.5.4 Evaluation Procedures for Promotion and Continued Appointment
The evaluation of candidates for continued appointment parallels the process for tenure consideration for college faculty, and incorporates the same, or similar, elements of procedure whenever relevant or reasonable. Given the small number of faculty members on the continued appointment-track, their dossiers are reviewed at two levels (rather than three as required for college faculty): first by the University Libraries or Extension promotion and continued appointment committee and dean of University Libraries or director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, and second by the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee and the provost.
Although some participants in the review process may serve at more than one level—for example a departmental committee member may also serve on the divisional committee—participants may only vote once on a case. A faculty member may not serve on any committee that is evaluating a spouse, family member, or other individual with whom the faculty member has a close personal relationship. (See chapter two, “Potential Conflicts Involving Spouses and Immediate Family Members.”)
Because the job descriptions and responsibilities of the candidates being considered do not conform to a single pattern or norm, it is not possible to set forth a statement of criteria with reference to which all recommendations for promotion or continued appointment must be made. Nevertheless, members of the general faculty seeking continued appointment or promotion in faculty rank are generally expected to have records of outstanding accomplishment in an appropriate combination of the following categories:
Professional responsibilities: Carrying out the responsibilities of the position within the organizational unit by effective staff work, display of leadership, and a high degree of initiative.
Research and scholarly activities: Publishing in journals, presenting papers at professional meetings, organizing or chairing sessions at professional meetings, and carrying out instructional responsibilities or graduate student advising.
University activities: Participating in the conduct of the activities of the administrative unit and the university. Such service takes innumerable forms, including serving on committees or in faculty governance positions, or participating in seminars or conferences.
External activities: Participating in local, state, regional, and national professional associations. Such participation includes activities such as holding office, serving on committees, conducting workshops, serving on panels, and attending conferences, conventions, or meetings.
Awards and honors: Receiving awards, grants, and honorary titles or being selected for membership in honorary societies.
Activities and accomplishments in other appropriate areas, beyond these five, may be included in dossiers and are considered.
University Libraries and Extension faculty are expected to develop within this framework the performance criteria that are most relevant to the responsibilities of those units. These criteria serve both as an aid to faculty development and as a set of measures that the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee may apply.
Promotion to a higher rank or an award of continued appointment may be granted to faculty members on a regular faculty appointment who demonstrate outstanding accomplishments in an appropriate combination of learning, discovery, engagement, and other professional activities. Every faculty member should maintain a current curriculum vita, with copies filed in the University Libraries department or Extension unit, as appropriate. The curriculum vita together with annual faculty activity reports, student or client evaluations, reprints of publications, reference letters, and other similar documents comprise a dossier, which furnishes the principal basis for promotion and continued appointment decisions.
The criteria by which faculty with part-time appointments are evaluated for continued appointment is the same as the criteria by which full-time faculty are evaluated. Promotion and continued appointment committees consider years of full-time equivalent service when reaching decisions, excluding any approved probationary period extensions granted under the extending the continued appointment clock policy.
Besides consideration of specific professional criteria, evaluation for promotion or continued appointment should consider the candidate’s integrity, professional conduct, and ethics. To the extent that such considerations are significant factors in reaching a negative recommendation, they should be documented as part of the formal review process.
18.104.22.168 Division-Level Evaluation
The University Libraries and Extension divisions each have committees with appropriate faculty representation to evaluate candidates for promotion and/or continued appointment. They make recommendations to the dean of University Libraries or to the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. The dean or director may chair their respective committees or remain separate from the committee’s deliberations and subsequently receive its recommendations. (See guidelines in chapter four, “Composition of University Libraries and Extension Division-Level Committees.”)
These promotion and continued appointment committees review the cases of candidates for promotion and/or continued appointment, including those faculty members in the final probationary year. The dean or director furnishes the committee with a dossier for each candidate.
22.214.171.124 Composition of University Libraries and Extension Division-Level Committees
Rules governing eligibility and selection of the University Libraries or Extension review committee members, and operating guidelines for the committees’ deliberations must be documented in written division-level policies, formally approved by the faculty.
The University Libraries and Extension divisions each determine who is eligible to serve on committees from among faculty members with continued appointment.
The committee may include department heads or district directors; however, these members may not vote on cases from their departments or districts since each has already had an opportunity to vote or make a recommendation on those candidates.
If possible, some significant element of faculty choice should be a part of the committee selection procedure. Where small numbers make an election process impractical, the dean or director appoints the representative.
If University Libraries department heads or Extension district directors serve on the review committees, their total number is less than that of other faculty members.
Committee appointments should be staggered to assure continuity from one year’s deliberation to the next. If possible, members should not serve more than two successive terms.
Selection of the committee chair is determined in accordance with policies approved by the faculty.
The dean may be present at the University Libraries promotion and continued appointment committee deliberations, and the director may be present at the Extension promotion and continued appointment committee deliberations. Each serve in an advisory capacity to the committee to assure compliance with university procedures and fairness and equity of treatment of candidates. The dean and director do not vote on committee recommendations, but provide a separate recommendation to the provost.
Faculty members appointed to serve on the university-level promotion and continued appointment committee are encouraged to observe their division-level deliberations to better prepare for their roles, but should not participate or attempt to influence the division-level recommendations.
126.96.36.199 Procedures and Recommendations of University Libraries and Extension Division-Level Committees
The committee makes a recommendation on each candidate to the dean of University Libraries or director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, including a written evaluation that assesses the quality of the candidate’s performance in each relevant area. The division of the vote is conveyed to the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee and provost, but must otherwise remain confidential outside the committee. In the absence of a unanimous recommendation, a minority report may be included. Whenever the dean or director does not concur with the committee’s recommendation, the committee is so notified.
Evaluation for continued appointment is mandated in the sixth year of probationary service unless the faculty member has given written notice of resignation from the faculty. If the review committee feels that the faculty member’s record does not warrant a continued appointment, there is an automatic review of the candidate’s dossier by the dean of University Libraries or the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. If the dean or director concurs, the faculty member is notified by the dean or director, in writing, of the decision and the specific reasons for it.
The review committees may ask the candidate to appear before the committee to present additional information or clarification of recommendations.
188.8.131.52 Review and Recommendations by the Dean of University Libraries and Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension
The dean of University Libraries and the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension send forward to the provost the full dossier of every candidate for whom there is a positive recommendation from either the division-level review committees or the dean/director, or both. The dean and director prepare separate letters of recommendation to be forwarded with the dossiers from their division. Whenever the dean or director does not concur with their division-level committee’s recommendation, the committee is so notified.
The dossiers that the dean and director send to the provost are accompanied by a statement describing the formation and procedures of the review committee and a summary of the number of candidates considered by the division in each category. The division of the vote is conveyed to the university-level committee and provost, but must otherwise remain confidential.
184.108.40.206 University Evaluation for Promotion and Continued Appointment
Promotions and continued appointments are considered by the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee.
The University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee reviews the qualifications of the candidates recommended for promotion and/or continued appointment by the dean of University Libraries or the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. It also reviews those cases in which the dean or director do not concur with their division-level committee’s positive recommendations. (University-level review of a case with differing recommendations for the dean or director and the division-level committee is automatic and does not require an appeal.) The purpose of the reviews is to verify that the recommendations are consistent with the evidence, reflecting university standards, and that they are consistent with university objective, programmatic plans, and budgetary constraints.
The committee makes a recommendation on each candidate to the provost. The provost makes recommendations to the president, informing the university committee of those recommendations, including the basis for any non-concurrence with the university committee recommendations. The provost informs the president of any variation between the provost’s recommendations and those of the university committee.
The president makes recommendations to the Board of Visitors, with the Board of Visitors being responsible for the final decision.
The provost notifies the dean and director of any negative decision reached by the provost, the president, or the Board of Visitors. The dean or director, when notifying the faculty member in writing, notes appeal options.
On recommendation of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, the University Council approved the following guidelines on formation and procedures of the university committee:
This committee includes as members the provost or his or her designee; the dean of the University Libraries; the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension; and four faculty members with continued appointment—two each from the University Libraries faculty and the Extension faculty. The provost asks for nominations to this committee from the University Libraries faculty and the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Where possible, some significant element of faculty choice should be part of the selection procedure.
The faculty members of the committee hold staggered terms of three years; the provost makes the committee appointments.
The provost or his or her designee chairs the committee but does not vote.
All other members of the committee hold voting privileges. Regardless of the size of the committee, the faculty must always have at least a majority of the potential votes. Consistent with the principle that participants at all levels of the promotion and continued appointment review process vote only once on an individual case, the dean and director do not vote on cases from their own division. Similarly, faculty members serving on the university committee do not vote on any case they previously voted on, should this circumstance occur.
All voting within the committee should be by written secret ballot; the division of any ballot must remain confidential.
4.5.5 Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Continued Appointment, or Promotion
A faculty member who is notified of a negative decision following evaluation for a term reappointment during the probationary period, for continued appointment, or for promotion may appeal for review of the decision under conditions and procedures specified in this section. The appellant has a right to an explanation of the reasons contributing to the denial.
Such an appeal must be filed, in writing, within 14 calendar days of formal notification of the decision, which shall make reference to appeal procedures. The appeal can only be based on grounds that certain relevant information was not provided or considered in the decision, or that the decision was influenced by improper consideration.
In their recommendations, administrators and committees hearing an appeal should address the standards outlined in the previous paragraph. In particular, they shall not substitute their own judgment on the merits for that of the body or individual that made the decision under appeal. The recommendations should address the allegations in the appeal with specificity, and cite appropriate evidence.
Appeals should be resolved as quickly as possible without compromising fairness or thoroughness of review. Whenever possible, the goal should be to achieve final resolution in time to accommodate the first meeting of the Board of Visitors in the fall semester.
A faculty member who believes that the appeal procedures described in this section have been improperly followed may, at any point, seek advice from the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation and/or file a grievance in accordance with the grievance procedure in chapter four, “Faculty Grievance Policy and Procedures.”
220.127.116.11 Probationary Reappointment
Faculty members on probationary term appointments should make no presumption of reappointment. Procedures for term reappointment or the granting of continued appointment for members of the University Libraries faculty or Extension faculty are developed in those units. A decision for non-reappointment to a term appointment, based primarily on performance evaluation, is final if reached by the division-level committee and is sustained by the dean of University Libraries or the director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, as appropriate. Notice of non-reappointment is furnished according to the schedule in chapter two, “Retirement, Resignation, and Non-Reappointment.” The specific reasons for the decision are provided to the faculty member in writing, if requested.
If the non-reappointment decision is reached by the dean or director in contradiction to the recommendation of the division-level committee, the faculty member may request that the non-reappointment decision be reviewed by the provost for a final decision.
The faculty member presents the appeal in writing as specified in chapter four, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Continued Appointment, or Promotion.” The provost may ask the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee to review the case and make recommendation as an aid to that decision.
18.104.22.168 Continued Appointment Decision
Occasionally faculty members are evaluated for continued appointment during the probationary period, but before the final probationary year. In such a case, there is no recourse to appeal or review of a negative decision, at whatever level it is reached, because of the certainty that the evaluation will be undertaken again within a limited time.
If a faculty member is denied continued appointment in a mandatory review by both the division-level committee and the dean of University Libraries or director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, the faculty member may appeal the negative decision in writing in accordance with provisions of this section. The appeal is submitted to the provost for review by the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment, which shall make a recommendation to the provost for a final decision. No further appeal is provided. The University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment may choose to hear oral arguments. Substantive procedural violations may be addressed through the grievance process described in chapter four, “Faculty Grievance Policy and Procedures.”
Should the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment find reason to believe that the review committee’s evaluation was biased or was significantly influenced by improper considerations, the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment may request that the dean or director form a new ad hoc review committee. The ad hoc committee makes recommendation to the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment that requested its formation. The University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment then makes a recommendation to the provost.
Should the provost not concur with a positive recommendation from the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment, whether that recommendation culminates a usual review or an appeal, the faculty member is so notified in writing of the specific reason for the decision. The faculty member may appeal to the Faculty Review Committee. That committee investigates the case and, if the differences cannot be reconciled, makes a recommendation to the president on the matter. The president’s decision is final.
22.214.171.124 Review of Progress Toward Promotion for Faculty with Continued Appointment
At least one review of progress toward promotion to professor should be conducted three to five years after promotion and continued appointment is awarded (or after continued appointment is awarded at the current rank of associate professor). The review is required for faculty promoted and awarded continued appointment during 2012-13 and thereafter. The review is to be substantive and thorough. At a minimum, an appropriate departmental committee (e.g., continued appointment committee, personnel committee, annual review committee) must review the faculty member’s relevant annual activity reports, peer evaluations of teaching, and authored materials since the last promotion. The committee may also wish to review an updated curriculum vita. The faculty member may wish to complete a draft promotion dossier (using the format available on the provost’s website) to organize and present information for review.
The review should be developmental and focus on the faculty member’s progress toward promotion to professor. The developmental guidance should focus on recommended future activities and plans that will position the faculty member for promotion. All reviews must be in writing, with the faculty member acknowledging receipt by signing and returning a copy for his or her departmental file. In addition, the faculty member may request a meeting with the department committee chair and the department head or chair to discuss the review and recommendations. Individual faculty members are also encouraged to seek guidance and mentoring from senior colleagues and the department head or chair.
126.96.36.199 Promotion Consideration and Decision
There is no specification for minimum or maximum time of service in any rank. A faculty member may request at any time a consideration for promotion in rank if the review committee has not chosen to undertake such an evaluation. However, appeal of a negative promotion decision is provided only if the faculty member has been in rank for at least six years and if the faculty member has formally requested, in writing, consideration for promotion in a previous year. Candidates for promotion who have been denied by both the division-level review committee and the dean of University Libraries or director of Virginia Cooperative Extension may appeal to the provost, who asks the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment to consider the appeal. The faculty member presents the appeal in writing as specified in chapter four, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Continued Appointment, or Promotion.”
The committee makes recommendation to the provost. If the University Committee for Promotion and Continued Appointment and the provost concur with the negative decision, the decision is final; if not, the president makes a final decision.
4.6 Annual Evaluation and Post-Continued Appointment Review
4.6.1 Annual Evaluation and Salary Adjustments
All departments are required to have written guidelines outlining the process and criteria used in faculty evaluations. The adoption of such guidelines promotes consistency and transparency in this important aspect of faculty life.
Every faculty member’s professional performance is evaluated annually and written feedback is provided separately from confirmation of any merit adjustments. The process begins with submission of a faculty activity report (FAR). All non-temporary faculty members must submit a FAR annually. These reports form part of the basis for performance evaluations, awarding merit adjustments, and promotion, continued appointment, and post-continued appointment reviews.
The dean and director are responsible for conducting annual faculty evaluations, either independently or in consultation with an appropriately charged committee in accordance with divisional procedures. All evaluations must be in writing and include a discussion of contributions and accomplishments in all areas of the faculty member’s responsibilities, comments on the faculty member’s plans and goals, and any recommendations for improvement or change. Faculty members should receive their written evaluations within 90 days of submission of required materials, and they acknowledge receipt by signing and returning a copy for their divisional file, or the electronic equivalent. Acknowledging receipt of the evaluation does not imply agreement. If a faculty member substantially disagrees with the evaluation, he or she may submit a written response to the dean or director for inclusion in his or her personnel file.
In addition to their annual evaluation letters, all pre-continued appointment faculty members receive at least two thorough reviews during the six-year probationary period and written feedback on their progress toward continued appointment by their divisional promotion and continued appointment committee prior to reappointment in accordance with guidance included in chapter four, “Probationary Period.”
Faculty members with part-time appointments are reviewed on the annual review cycle used for all faculty members in the department. For purposes of annual review, the fraction of the appointment must be taken into account when considering the appropriate level of achievement in that year.
Salary adjustments are based on merit; they are not automatic. Recommendations for salary adjustments originate with the dean or director and are reviewed by the provost and the president. Because salary adjustments are determined administratively on an annual basis and based significantly on the quality of the faculty member's response to assigned responsibility, they do not necessarily reflect an accurate measure of the full scope of the faculty member's professional development as evaluated by relevant committees in the continued appointment and promotion process.
The salary adjustments of continuing faculty members are approved by the Board of Visitors, and each faculty member is informed in writing of the board's action as soon as possible. (See chapter two, “Faculty Compensation Plan.”)
4.6.2 Unsatisfactory Performance
Failure to meet the minimal obligations and standards the division has stipulated for its faculty results in an "unsatisfactory" rating. Written notification of an unsatisfactory rating and the considerations upon which it was based is given to the faculty member, with a copy to the provost. A single unsatisfactory evaluation indicates a serious problem, which should prompt remedial action. Faculty members may respond in writing with a letter to the dean or director for inclusion in their personnel file, or they may seek redress through either the reconciliation or grievance procedures. Two successive annual ratings of unsatisfactory performance for a faculty member with continued appointment results in a post-continued appointment review.
4.6.3 Divisional Minimal Standards
The University Libraries and Extension divisions shall develop, maintain, and publish a statement of minimal standards for satisfactory faculty performance using the following process. Standards should be written with the participation of faculty in the division and approved by a vote of the continued appointment-track faculty in the division. Standards developed and approved by division-level promotion and continued appointment committee and the dean or director are then reviewed and approved by the provost. Once approved, the standards are published and available to all faculty members in the division. Revisions of divisional standards also follow these procedures.
The following guidance is provided for the development of divisional minimal standards:
Divisions should carefully assess and state the overall standards of professional performance and contribution they consider minimally acceptable for continued appointment faculty. Each division’s evaluation mechanism should allow a distinction between performance that is deficient in one or more areas requiring improvement, and performance that is so seriously deficient as to merit the formal designation "unsatisfactory."
Divisional standards should embrace the entire scope of faculty contributions. Expectations recognize differences in faculty assignments within the same department or unit. Divisional standards should typically address the individual's skill, effort, and effectiveness in contributing to all aspects of the instructional mission; the individual's activity in and contributions to the discipline; the individual's contributions to the collective life of the division and university; and the individual's activity in and contributions to the university's outreach mission.
Divisional statements should affirm support for the basic principles of academic freedom and should express tolerance for minority opinions, dissent from professional orthodoxies, and honest and civil disagreement with administrative actions.
Departmental statements should include the expectation that faculty with continued appointment will adhere to the standards of conduct and ethical behavior as stated in the Faculty Handbook and/or promulgated through other official channels.
4.6.4 Post-Continued Appointment Review
Nothing in this section should be interpreted as abridging the university's right to proceed directly to dismissal for cause as defined in chapter four, “Dismissal for Cause,” or the right of individual faculty members to pursue existing mechanisms of reconciliation and redress.
A post-continued appointment review is mandatory whenever a faculty member with continued appointment receives two consecutive annual evaluations of unsatisfactory performance. Annual reviews for years spent on leave without pay are disregarded for the purpose of this calculation. The divisional promotion and continued appointment committee conducts the review, unless the same committee was involved in the original unsatisfactory annual evaluations. In this case, the division elects a committee to carry out the review function.
Upon recommendation of the dean or director, a post-continued appointment review may be waived or postponed if there are extenuating circumstances (such as health problems).
The purpose of a post-continued appointment review is to focus the perspective of faculty peers on the full scope of a faculty member's professional competence, performance, and contributions to the division and university missions and priorities.
The faculty member has both the right and the obligation to provide a dossier with all documents, materials, and statements he or she believes are relevant and necessary for the review. Ordinarily, such a dossier includes at least the following: an updated curriculum vita, the past two or more faculty activity reports, teaching or client assessments, if any, and a description of activities and accomplishments since the last faculty activity report. The faculty member is given a period of no less than four weeks to assemble the dossier for the committee. The dean or director supplies the review committee with the last two annual evaluations, all materials that were considered in those evaluations, any further materials deemed relevant, and other materials the committee requests. Copies of all materials supplied to the committee are given to the faculty member. The faculty member has the right to provide a written rebuttal of evidence provided by the dean or director.
The committee weighs the faculty member's contributions to the discipline, the division, and the university through learning, discovery, and engagement. The burden of proving unsatisfactory performance is on the university. The committee prepares a summary of its findings and makes a recommendation to the dean or director and provost. Final action and notification of the faculty member is the responsibility of the dean or director, with the concurrence of the provost.
The review may result in one of the following outcomes:
Certification of satisfactory performance: The committee may conclude that the faculty member's competence and professional contributions are satisfactory to meet the division’s minimal expectations, thus failing to sustain the assessment of the dean or director. The review is then complete. An unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year is counted as the first in any future sequence.
Certification of deficiencies: The committee may concur that the faculty member's competence and/or professional contributions are unsatisfactory to meet the division’s minimal expectations. The committee may recommend dismissal for cause, a sanction other than dismissal for cause, or a single period of remediation not to exceed two years.
Remediation: If a period of remediation is recommended, the committee specifies in detail the deficiencies it noted, defines specific goals and measurable outcomes the faculty member should achieve, and establishes a timeline for meeting the goals. The dean or director meets with the faculty member at least twice annually to review the individual's progress. The dean or director prepares a summary report for the committee following each meeting and at the end of the specified remediation period, at which time the committee either certifies satisfactory performance or recommends dismissal for cause or a sanction other than dismissal for cause following the procedures described below.
Sanction other than dismissal for cause: A division-level recommendation to impose a severe sanction, as defined in chapter four, “Imposition of a Severe Sanction,” is referred to the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee, which reviews the case as presented to the division-level committee, provides an opportunity for the faculty member to be heard, and determines whether the recommendation is consistent with the evidence. The university committee may reject, uphold, or modify the specific sanction recommended by the division-level committee. If the division-level committee also recommends imposition of a severe sanction, then the same procedures used for dismissal for cause guide the process. The review conducted by the division-level committee satisfies the requirement in step two for an informal inquiry by an ad hoc or standing personnel committee. Thus, in the case of a post-continued appointment review, this step is not repeated.
If a severe sanction is imposed or ultimately rejected, then the post-continued appointment review cycle is considered complete. An unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year is counted as the first in any future sequence.
Dismissal for cause: If dismissal for cause is recommended, the case shall be referred to the division-level promotion and continued appointment committee as described in chapter four, “Procedures and Recommendations of University Libraries and Extension Division-Level Committees,” which reviews the case as presented to the divisional committee and determines whether the recommendation is consistent with the evidence. If the University Promotion and Continued Appointment Committee upholds the recommendation for dismissal, then the procedures specified in chapter four, “Dismissal for Cause,” begin immediately. The division-level committee review satisfies the requirement for an informal inquiry by a standing personnel committee.
4.6.5 Periodic Review of Academic Deans, Dean of University Libraries, Dean of the Honors College, Department Heads, Senior Administrators, and Academic Vice Presidents
In addition to an annual performance evaluation, and in accordance with University Policy 6105, “Periodic Evaluation of Academic Deans and Vice Presidents,” academic deans, dean of University Libraries, dean of the Honors College, and academic vice presidents are subject to periodic evaluations every five years. If the review of a dean cannot be conducted in the fifth year as would usually be the case, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will inform the officers of the relevant college or University Libraries faculty association as to the reason for delay. A review may also be initiated at any time by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and/or at the request of at least one-third of the tenure-track faculty in the college, or in the case of the University Libraries, one-third of the continued appointment faculty. If the review of a vice president who reports to the provost cannot be conducted in the fifth year, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will notify the deans and the chairs of the college and University Libraries faculty associations as to the reason for the delay. In the semester prior to a periodic evaluation, the faculty association will be notified of the review and the association may schedule a meeting with the provost to discuss the upcoming review.
University Policy 6100, “Department Head or Chair Appointments,” outlines the review process for academic department heads or chairs. In addition, colleges should adopt more detailed procedures in accordance with the broad guidelines below so that reviews may be conducted consistently and appropriately across the college for those serving in academic leadership roles.
The purpose of the periodic review is to support the success of the university's academic units by providing developmental feedback to promote fair and effective academic leadership. Reappointment of an individual to academic department head, chair, academic dean, or academic vice president must be preceded by a periodic review conducted in accordance with guidelines outlined in University Policy 6105 or in University Policy 6100.
4.7 Imposition of a Severe Sanction or Dismissal for Cause
4.7.1 Adequate Cause
Adequate cause for imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal is related, directly and substantially, to the fitness of faculty members in their professional capacity as teachers and scholars. Imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights of American citizens.
Adequate cause includes: violation of professional ethics (see chapter two, “Professional Responsibilities and Conduct”); incompetence as determined through post-continued appointment review; willful failure to carry out professional obligations or assigned responsibilities; willful violation of university and/or government policies; falsification of information relating to professional qualifications; inability to perform assigned duties satisfactorily because of incarceration; or personal deficiencies that prevent the satisfactory performance of responsibilities (e.g., dependence on drugs or alcohol).
Reason to consider the imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal for cause is usually determined by a thorough and careful investigation by an appropriately charged faculty committee (as in the case of allegations of ethical or scholarly misconduct, or through a post-continued appointment review) or by the relevant administrator (for example, the dean or director, compliance and conflict resolution officer, internal auditor, or Virginia Tech Police). Generally, these investigations result in a report of findings; some reports also include a recommendation for sanctions. The report is directed to the relevant administrator for action; it is also shared with the faculty member. Imposition of a severe sanction or initiation of dismissal for cause proceedings, if warranted, follows the procedures set forth below.
4.7.2 Imposition of a Severe Sanction
Definition and Examples: A severe sanction generally involves a significant loss or penalty to a faculty member such as, but not limited to, a demotion in rank and/or a reduction in salary or suspension without pay for a period not to exceed one year, imposed for unacceptable conduct and/or a serious breach of university policy.
Routine personnel actions such as a recommendation for a below average or no merit increase, conversion from a calendar year to an academic year appointment, reassignment, or removal of an administrative stipend do not constitute “sanctions” within the meaning of this policy. A personnel action such as these may be a valid issue for grievance under procedures defined in the Faculty Handbook.
Process for Imposing a Severe Sanction: The conduct of a faculty member, although not constituting adequate cause for dismissal, may be sufficiently grave to justify imposition of a severe sanction. Imposition of a severe sanction follows the same procedures as dismissal for cause beginning with step one. If the matter is not resolved at the first step, a standing or ad hoc faculty committee conducts an informal inquiry (step two). The requirement for such an informal inquiry is satisfied if the investigation was conducted by an appropriately charged faculty committee (as would be the case with an alleged violation of the ethics or scholarly misconduct policies) and, having determined that in its opinion there is adequate cause for imposing a severe sanction, refers the matter to the administration.
4.7.3 Dismissal for Cause
The following procedures apply to faculty members with continued appointment, or for dismissal of a continued appointment-track faculty member before the end of his or her current appointment.
Dismissal is preceded by:
Step one: Discussions between the faculty member, dean or director, and/or provost, looking toward a mutual settlement.
Step two: Informal inquiry by a standing (or, if necessary, ad hoc) faculty committee having concern for personnel matters. This committee attempts to affect an adjustment and, failing to do so, determines whether in its opinion dismissal proceedings should be undertaken, without its opinion being binding on the president’s decision whether to proceed.
Step three: The furnishing by the president (in what follows, the president may delegate the provost to serve instead) of a statement of particular charges, in consultation with the dean or director. The statement of charges is included in a letter to the faculty member indicating the intention to dismiss, with notification of the right to a formal hearing. The faculty member is given a specified reasonable time limit to request a hearing, that time limit is no less than 10 days.
Procedures for conducting a formal hearing, if requested: If a hearing committee is to be established, the president asks the Faculty Senate, through its president, to nominate nine faculty members to serve on the hearing committee. These faculty members should be nominated on the basis of their objectivity, competence, and regard in which they are held in the academic community. They must have no bias or untoward interest in the case and are available at the anticipated time of hearing. The faculty member and the president each have a maximum of two challenges from among the nominees without stated cause. The president then names a five-member hearing committee from the remaining names on the nominated slate. The hearing committee elects its chair.
Pending a final decision on the dismissal, the faculty member is suspended only if immediate harm to him or herself or to others is threatened by continuance. If the president believes such suspension is warranted, consultation takes place with the Committee on Reconciliation of the Faculty Senate concerning the propriety, the length, and other conditions of the suspension. Ordinarily, salary continues during such a period of suspension.
The hearing committee may hold joint pre-hearing meetings with both parties to simplify the issues, effect stipulations of facts, provide for the exchange of documentary or other information, and achieve such other appropriate pre-hearing objectives as will make the hearing fair and expeditious.
Notice of hearing of at least 20 days is made in writing. The faculty member may waive appearance at the hearing, instead responding to the charges in writing or otherwise denying the charges or asserting that the charges do not support a finding of adequate cause. In such a case, the hearing committee evaluates all available evidence and rests its recommendation on the evidence in the record.
The committee, in consultation with the president and the faculty member, exercises its judgment as to whether the hearing is public or private. During the proceedings, the faculty member is permitted to have an academic advisor and legal counsel. At the request of either party or on the initiative of the hearing committee, a representative of an appropriate educational association is permitted to attend the hearing as an observer.
A verbatim record of the hearing is taken.
The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the university.
The hearing committee grants adjournment to enable either party to investigate evidence about which a valid claim of surprise is made. The faculty member is afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence. The administration cooperates with the hearing committee in securing witnesses and evidence. The faculty member and administration have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. The committee determines the admissibility of statements of unavailable witnesses and, if possible, provides for interrogatories.
The hearing committee is not bound by strict rules of legal evidence, and may admit any evidence that is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every possible effort is made to obtain the most reliable evidence available.
The findings of fact and the recommendation are based solely on the hearing record. The president and the faculty member are notified of the recommendation in writing and are given a written copy of the record of the hearing.
If the hearing committee concludes that adequate cause for dismissal has not been established, it so reports to the president. In such a case, the committee may recommend sanctions short of outright dismissal or may recommend no sanctions. If the president rejects the recommendation, the hearing committee and the faculty member are so informed in writing, with reasons, and each is given an opportunity for response.
Appeal to the Board of Visitors: If the president decides to impose dismissal or other severe sanction, whether that is the recommendation of the hearing committee, the faculty member may request that the full record of the case be submitted to the Board of Visitors (or a duly constituted committee of the board). The board’s review is based on the record of the committee hearing, and it provides opportunity for argument, written or oral or both, by the principals at the hearing or their representatives. If the recommendation of the hearing committee is not sustained, the proceeding returns to the committee with specific objections. The committee then reconsiders, taking into account the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary. The board makes a final decision only after study of the committee’s reconsideration.
Notice of Termination/Dismissal: In cases where gross misconduct is decided, termination is usually immediate. The standard for gross misconduct is behavior so egregious that it evokes condemnation by the academic community generally and is so utterly blameworthy as to make it inappropriate to offer additional notice or severance pay. The first faculty committee that considers the case determines gross misconduct. In cases not involving gross misconduct: (a) a faculty member with continued appointment receives up to one year of salary or notice, and (b) a probationary faculty member receives up to three months’ salary or notice. These terms of dismissal begin at the date of final notification of dismissal.
4.8 Faculty Grievance Policy and Procedures
The following procedure is provided as the means for resolution of grievances against a supervisor or member(s) of the university administration brought by members of the University Libraries and Extension faculty with continued appointment or on the continued appointment-track. The Faculty Review Committee of the Faculty Senate conducts the step four hearing if requested.
4.8.1 Faculty Reconciliation and Mediation Services
Informal Dialogue: It should be possible to resolve most faculty concerns or complaints through informal communication among colleagues working together in the academic enterprise. Accordingly, a faculty member who feels he or she has a grievance is encouraged to take it to his or her immediate supervisor in the collegial spirit of problem solving rather than as a confrontation between adversaries.
Reconciliation: At the initiation of the grievance procedure, or at any earlier time, the grievant may request the assistance of the Committee on Reconciliation in fashioning an equitable solution. Contacting the Committee on Reconciliation is not required in filing a grievance, but it may be useful if the grievant feels that the issue may be amenable to, but will require time for, negotiation; or if the grievant is unsure whether his or her concern is a legitimate issue for a grievance; or if personal relations between the parties involved in the grievance have become strained.
For a potential grievance issue to qualify for consideration by the Committee on Reconciliation, the grievant must contact the chair of the Committee on Reconciliation within 30 calendar days of the time when the grievant knew or should have known of the event or action that is the basis for the potential grievance, just as if beginning the regular grievance process. If the grievant requests assistance from the Committee on Reconciliation, that committee must request a postponement of the time limits involved in the grievance procedure while it deals with the case. The request is submitted in writing to the vice provost for faculty affairs by the chair of the Committee on Reconciliation. Also, the grievant should reach an understanding with the Committee on Reconciliation of the time frame planned for that committee’s work on the case, such time not to exceed 60 calendar days.
Faculty members may also consult the Committee on Reconciliation about serious disagreements with immediate supervisors or other university administrators concerning issues that may not be eligible for consideration within the grievance process. In such instances, the committee contacts the relevant administrator to determine if there is an interest and willingness to explore informal resolution of the dispute; it is not necessary to notify the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
Additional information regarding the faculty reconciliation process is available on the provost’s website.
Mediation: Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process through which trained neutral third persons (mediators) assist people to express their concerns and develop solutions to the dispute in a safe and structured environment. Assistance with mediation is available through the Department of Human Resources. Because mediation is voluntary, both parties must agree to participate in order for mediation to occur. Faculty members and supervisors are encouraged to consider using mediation to resolve disputes or to help address a conflict between a faculty member and another member of the Virginia Tech community.
Role of Mediators: Mediators do not make judgments, determine facts, or decide the outcome; instead they facilitate discussion between the participants, who identify the solutions best suited to their situation. No agreement is made unless and until it is acceptable to the participants.
Requesting Mediation: Mediation is available at any time, without the filing of a grievance. Additionally, mediation may be requested by any party during the grievance process prior to step four. If, after the initiation of a formal grievance, both parties agree to participate in mediation, the grievance is placed on administrative hold until the mediation process is complete. If the parties come to a resolution of the dispute through mediation, the parties are responsible to each other for ensuring that the provisions of the agreement are followed. In the event that the parties are not able to reach a mutual resolution to the dispute through mediation, the grievant may request that the grievance be reactivated and the process continues.
Mediation differs from faculty reconciliation in that mediators do not engage in fact-finding or in evaluation of decisions. Both mediation and reconciliation, however, are voluntary; no party is required to participate in either process.
4.8.2 The Formal Grievance Procedure
If the assistance of the Faculty Senate Committee on Reconciliation is not desired or is not requested; or if that committee determines that it cannot provide assistance in the matter; or if the grievant finds that the length of time the Committee on Reconciliation plans or takes with the case is excessive; or if the grievant is not satisfied with the recommendations of that committee, the grievant may pursue the issue as a formal grievance through the following procedure. Department heads or chairs, deans, directors, and other administrative faculty will cooperate with the grievant in the mechanics of processing the grievance, but the grievant alone is responsible for preparation of his or her case.
Step one: The grievant must meet with his or her immediate supervisor (usually the department head) within 30 calendar days of the date that grievant knew or should have known of the event or action that is basis for the grievance and orally identifies the grievance and the grievant’s concerns. The supervisor provides an oral response to the grievant within five weekdays following the meeting. If the supervisor’s response is satisfactory to the grievant, that ends the matter.
Step two: If a satisfactory resolution of the grievance is not achieved by the immediate supervisor’s oral response, the grievant may submit a written statement of the grievance and the relief requested to the immediate supervisor. This statement must be on the faculty grievance form, must define the grievance and the relief requested specifically and precisely, and must be submitted to the immediate supervisor within five weekdays of the time when the grievant received the immediate supervisor’s oral response to the first step meeting. Faculty grievance forms are available on the provost’s website.
Within five weekdays of receiving the written statement of the grievance, the immediate supervisor, in turn, gives the grievant a written response on the faculty grievance form, citing reasons for action taken or not taken. If the written response of the immediate supervisor is satisfactory to the grievant, that ends the matter.
Step three: If the resolution of the grievance proposed in the written response by the immediate supervisor is not acceptable, the grievant may advance the grievance to the next level of university administration by checking the appropriate place on the faculty grievance form, signing and sending the form to the next level administrator within five weekdays of receiving the written response from the immediate supervisor. The next level of administration for extra-collegiate faculty in the University Libraries and Extension is usually the University Libraries dean or dean of agriculture and life sciences. The administrator involved at this next level is hereafter referred to as the second-level administrator.
Following receipt of the faculty grievance form, the second-level administrator or designated representative meets with the grievant within five weekdays. The second-level administrator may request the immediate supervisor of the grievant be present; the grievant may similarly request that a representative of his or her choice from among the university faculty be present. Unless the grievant is represented by a member of the faculty who is also a lawyer, the second-level administrator does not have legal counsel present. The second-level administrator gives the grievant a written decision on the faculty grievance form within five weekdays after the meeting, citing reasons for his or her decision. If the second-level administrator’s written response to the grievance is satisfactory to the grievant it ends the matter.
Step four: If the resolution of the grievance proposed in the written response from the second-level administrator is not acceptable, the grievant may advance the grievance within five weekdays to the level of the provost, including consideration by an impartial hearing panel of the Faculty Review Committee. A description of the charge and membership of the Faculty Review Committee is included in chapter one, “Faculty Review Committee.”
Upon receiving the faculty grievance form requesting step four review, the provost, or appropriate designated representative, acknowledges receipt of the grievance within five weekdays and forwards a copy of the Procedures of the Faculty Review Committee to parties in the grievance process. The provost immediately forwards a copy of the grievance to the president of the Faculty Senate, who also writes to the grievant to acknowledge receipt of the grievance within five weekdays of receipt of the faculty grievance form from the provost.
The grievant may petition the provost to bypass the Faculty Review Committee and rule on the grievance. If the provost accepts the request, there is no subsequent opportunity for the grievance to be heard by a hearing panel. The provost’s decision, however, may be appealed to the president, as described in step five. If the provost does not accept the petition, the Faculty Review Committee hears the grievance as outlined in these procedures.
Hearing Panel: A hearing panel consists of five members appointed by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee from among the members of the Faculty Review Committee. The chair of the Faculty Review Committee polls all appointees to ensure that they have no conflict of interest in the case. Both parties to the grievance may challenge one of the appointments, if they so desire, without need to state cause, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee appoints the needed replacement or replacements. Other replacements are made only for cause. The chair of the Faculty Review Committee rules on issues of cause.
To ensure uniformity in practice, the chair of the Faculty Review Committee or his or her designee serves as the non-voting chair of each hearing panel. In the event that the chair of the Faculty Review Committee has a conflict of interest concerning a case, the chair appoints a disinterested third party from among the members of the Faculty Review Committee not already appointed to the hearing panel for the case to serve as chair of the hearing panel.
Hearings: After a hearing panel is appointed, the chair of the Faculty Review Committee requests that each party to the grievance provide relevant documentation to be shared among the parties and the hearing panel. The panel holds its initial hearing with both principals present within 15 weekdays of receipt of the grievance by the Faculty Senate president. If the panel feels it needs to investigate the case further, or requires more information, or desires to hear witnesses, the hearing is adjourned until the panel completes the necessary work or scheduling. The hearing is then reconvened as appropriate.
Each party to the grievance may have a representative present during the sessions of the hearing at which testimony is presented. The representative may speak on their behalf if so requested. Representatives may be legal counsel, if both parties are so represented, but if the grievant does not wish to have legal counsel at a hearing, neither party to the grievance may have legal counsel present.
These impartial panel hearings are administrative functions, not adversarial proceedings. Therefore, if legal counsels are present they must understand that the proceedings do not follow courtroom or trial procedures and rules. Participation by legal counsel is at the invitation of the parties they represent and is subject to the rulings of the chair of the hearing panel. Detailed procedures followed in hearings are specified in the Procedures of the Faculty Review Committee as approved by the Faculty Senate.
Findings and Recommendations: The hearing panel concludes its work and makes its recommendations within 45 weekdays of receipt of the grievance by the Faculty Senate president. The time limit for consideration may be extended by agreement of both parties.
The hearing panel formulates written findings and recommendations regarding disposition of the grievance and forwards copies to the provost, the grievant, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee.
Provost’s Action: The provost meets with the grievant within 10 weekdays after receiving the findings and recommendations of the hearing panel to discuss the case and advise the grievant about the prospects for disposition of the case. Within 10 weekdays of that meeting, the provost sends to the grievant his or her decision in writing concerning the disposition of the grievance. If the provost’s decision is fully consonant with (or exceeds) the recommendations of the hearing panel, or if it is satisfactory to the grievant even if it differs from the recommendations of the hearing panel, that ends the matter.
Step five: If the provost’s decision is not acceptable to the grievant and not consonant with the recommendations of the hearing panel, the grievant may appeal in writing to the president within 20 calendar days. The president acts as he or she sees fit. The president’s decision is final.
4.8.3 Timeliness of Grievance and Procedural Compliance
A grievance must be brought forward in a timely manner. It is the responsibility of the grievant to initiate the grievance process within 30 calendar days of the time when he or she knew or should have known of the event or action that is the basis for the grievance. The university administration is not required to accept a grievance for processing if the grievant does not meet the 30-day deadline, except in cases of demonstrated good cause.
Scheduled commitments made prior to the time of filing or advancement of a grievance that preclude action by either of the parties to the grievance automatically extend time limits for their duration unless this would be demonstrably harmful to the fair processing of the grievance. In such cases, on written request by the grievant to the appropriate office for that step, the grievance is advanced to the next step in the grievance process.
If the grievant does not follow the time limits specified in the grievance procedure it is assumed that he or she accepted the last proposed resolution as satisfactory. If the grievant desires to advance the grievance after the appropriate specified time limits have lapsed, the administrator who receives the late submission notifies the chair of the Faculty Review Committee in writing, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee determines if there was good cause for the delay. If so, the grievance proceeds. If not, the process ends with the most recently proposed resolution in force. The finding on the matter by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee is communicated to both parties in writing.
If either party to a grievance charges the other with procedural violations other than time limit issues, a special committee of the president of the Faculty Senate, the chair of the Committee on Reconciliation, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee (or the vice president of the senate if the president is also chair of the Faculty Review Committee) is convened to rule on the question, as in disputes about the validity of issues qualifying for the grievance procedure. The special committee has the following options. It can either find no significant procedural violation occurred, in which case the grievance process continues unaffected, or that a significant procedural violation did occur. If the administrator committed a significant procedural violation, the grievance automatically qualifies for advancement to the next step in the grievance process. If the grievant committed a significant procedural violation, the grievance process ends at that point with the last proposed resolution established as the final disposition of the case.
4.8.4 Valid Issues for Grievance
For this process, a grievance is defined as a complaint by a faculty member alleging a violation, misinterpretation, or incorrect application of a policy, procedure, or practice of the university that directly affects the grievant. Some examples of valid issues for filing a grievance are: improperly or unfairly determined personnel decisions that result in an unsatisfactory annual performance evaluation, unreasonable merit adjustment or salary level, or excessive teaching load/work assignments; substantive violations of promotion and continued appointment procedures (see appeal process in chapter four, “Appeals of Decisions on Reappointment, Continued Appointment, or Promotion”); reprisals; substantive error in the application of policy; and matters relating to academic freedom.
Issues not open to grievance: While most faculty disputes with the university administration may be dealt with by this grievance policy, the following issues may not be made the subject of a grievance: determination of policy appropriately promulgated by the university administration or the university governance system; those items falling within the jurisdiction of other university policies and procedures (for example, complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment, or an appeal related to the merits of a promotion and/or continued appointment decision); the contents of personnel policies, procedures, rules, regulations, ordinances, and statutes; the routine assignment of university resources (e.g., space, operating funds, parking, etc.); usual actions taken, or recommendations made, by administrators or committee members acting in an official capacity in the grievance process; termination of appointment by removal for just cause, non-reappointment, or abolition of position; or allegations of misconduct in scholarly activities.
Adjudication of disputes on the validity of issues qualifying for consideration under the faculty grievance procedures: If a university administrator rules that an issue does not qualify for the grievance process, the grievant may write to the chair of the Faculty Review Committee within five weekdays of receiving such notification and request a ruling from a special committee consisting of the president of the Faculty Senate, the chair of the Committee on Reconciliation, and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee. The special committee considers the matter (including consultations with both parties if deemed necessary) and rules by majority vote on the admissibility of the matter to the grievance process. This special committee is called together by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee, who also sends a written report of the results of the deliberations of the committee to all parties concerned.
4.8.5 Particular Concerns and Definitions
Time limits are subject to extension by written agreement of both parties. The grievant and the administrator involved at that particular step of the discussion make such an agreement. (An agreement form to extend the grievance response time is available on the provost’s website.)
Grievances that advance to step four during or close to the summer and/or teaching breaks during the academic year may require some extension of the stipulated time limits. The principals and the chair of the Faculty Review Committee negotiate such an extension. Every effort is made, however, to stay within the stipulated time limits. In case of disagreement, the Faculty Senate president rules on time extension and procedure questions, which might include a hearing conducted by three rather than five panel members, or other recommendations designed to expedite the proceedings while providing peer review of the grievance.
If a faculty member is away from his or her assigned work location at the time he or she discovers the event or action that is the basis for a grievance, the 30-day period during which the grievant must meet with his or her immediate supervisor to initiate the grievance process begins when the faculty member returns to his or her assigned work location. If the date of return causes a delay of such length that the grievance, or its resolution, is not timely, the grievant may submit the grievance in writing to the immediate supervisor (step two), omitting personal meetings until such time as the faculty member returns to his or her assigned work location.
“Weekdays,” as used in this procedure, include Monday through Friday only and only when those days are not national, state, or religious holidays relevant to the principals in the grievance.
To protect a grievant from undue pressure in the pursuit of a grievance, if a grievant becomes ill and takes sick leave the grievance process stops until such time as the grievant is able to resume his or her duties. Exceptions to this provision are made at the request of the grievant, but only if the grievant obtains and produces medical certification that proceeding with the grievance will not be harmful to the health of the grievant, or exacerbate the ailment that required taking sick leave.
All costs of legal counsel employed by a grievant are borne by the grievant.
If a grievant is employed away from Blacksburg, and he or she is required to travel away from their duty station in resolution of their grievance, the university pays all travel costs permitted under state regulations.
In the event that a faculty member discovers he or she has a grievance about actions by an administrator above the level of his or her immediate supervisor that directly involve the faculty member, or with actions by an administrator not in his or her department that directly involve the faculty member, the grievant initiates the grievance process by seeking the intervention of his or her immediate supervisor within 30 calendar days of the discovery of the event or action that is the basis for the grievance. If that effort does not resolve the grievance satisfactorily, the grievant, after consulting his or her immediate supervisor, may file the faculty grievance form at the appropriate level or with the appropriate administrative office to initiate response from the administrator perceived as the source of the action causing the grievance. The grievance process then proceeds from that level onward in the usual fashion.
A grievance filed by a faculty member concerning an action of the provost is handled by the chair of the Faculty Review Committee and a regular impartial hearing panel, but the findings and recommendations of the hearing panel are sent to the president of the university for his or her ruling, rather than to the provost. A grievance filed by a faculty member concerning an action of the president of the university is dealt with by a special panel appointed by the provost in consultation with the president of the Faculty Senate.
Any final resolution of a grievance must be consonant with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and university policy.
Once a grievance is resolved, either to the satisfaction of the grievant, or if not to the satisfaction of the grievant, by the action of the provost in consonance with the hearing panel recommendations, or by the ruling of the president, that specific grievance is closed and may not be made the subject of another grievance.
4.8.6 Overview of the Formal Grievance Process for Faculty with Continued Appointment or on the Continued Appointment-Track
Below is an abbreviated overview of the grievance process and deadlines. Refer to chapter four, “The Formal Grievance Procedure,” for specific details and options available in each step of the grievance process.
Time limits are subject to extension by written agreement of both parties. The grievant and the administrator involved at that particular step of the discussion are the makers of such an agreement. (An agreement form to extend the grievance response time is available on the provost’s website.)
The procedures specified follow closely, but differ in occasional detail from, the "1976 Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure" approved by Committee A of the AAUP.
4.9 Study-Research Leave
Study-research leave may be granted to faculty members for research and/or advanced study necessary to enhance the competencies of those faculty members to carry out their obligations to the university. (At other universities this program is often called “sabbatical.”)
Full-time faculty members holding continued appointment with significant responsibility for instruction and scholarly productivity, with the rank of assistant professor or higher, having accrued a minimum of six years of service, are eligible for study-research leaves. Following such a leave, an additional six years of full-time service are necessary before a faculty member is eligible for another study-research leave. Requests may be submitted prior to completion of six years of service, but faculty members must have completed the sixth year before the leave period begins. Faculty members on the continued appointment-track are not eligible to apply for study-research leave until after continued appointment has been awarded.
Time spent on study-research leave, educational leave, or leave without pay is not considered in compiling minimum service requirements for further leaves.
As part of the commonwealth’s educational leave program, recipients of study-research leaves are provided with partial salary (not to exceed one-half salary). Full employee benefits remain in force while faculty members are on study-research leaves. Calendar year faculty on study-research leave earn annual leave at a rate of half their usual annual leave earnings.
Instead of a proposal for leave of a full academic or calendar year, faculty members may propose a sequence of semester leave periods at half-salary over several years, not to exceed in total one academic year (for a faculty member on academic year appointment) or 12 months (for a faculty member on calendar year appointment). If such a sequence of leaves is undertaken, all intervening periods of full-time appointment at Virginia Tech accrue toward the six-year minimum service required before eligibility for another study-research leave or sequence of leaves.
Alternatively, following completion of any study-research leave, faculty members may propose a single semester of study-research leave at half-salary following three years of full-time service to the university.
Recipients of a study-research leave may receive additional compensation from other approved sources up to a total equal to their annual salary from the university. Faculty members may receive the additional half salary from sponsored grants or contracts, resulting in a one-year period at full salary from university sources; the appropriate level of effort must be expended on grant-related activities. They may also obtain additional funds from external sources to cover expenses for travel, research, administrative assistance, and the purchase of relevant materials. Documentation of all external earnings and expected payments is required and must be reviewed and approved by the department head and provost. Engagement in consulting activities must be consonant with existing university policy.
The request for study-research leave is made in the fall and, if approved, is taken the following academic year. Requests for study-research leave should be submitted to the department head or chair by November 1 for processing through the college, provost, and consideration by the Board of Visitors at the March (or spring) meeting of the board. Requests are forwarded to the board, subject to recommendation of the department head or chair, dean, and the provost, with consideration of the need for effective continuation of the University Libraries’ or Extension’s program. Specific leave request due dates are established annually and made available in the Calendar of Important Dates found on the provost’s website.
The faculty member must return to full-time service with the university for a minimum of at least one academic year at the end of the approved leave or repay the university the salary received plus interest. If less than this required period of service is met, repayment is required of the pro rata portion of the compensation provided by the university during the leave period. The faculty member, before undertaking the leave, must sign a memorandum of agreement to this effect.
Within 60 days of returning to full-time status, the faculty member must send a letter to the provost, dean, and department head summarizing his or her accomplishments.
4.10 Research Assignment
Research assignment is a special category of study-research leave that is awarded to a faculty member with continued appointment for one semester of intensive study or research that increases the quality of the individual’s professional stature and future contribution to the university. It may be taken in lieu of an ordinary year-long study-research leave. Continued appointment-track faculty members are not eligible to apply for research assignment leave until after continued appointment has been awarded.
Full-time faculty members holding continued appointment with the rank of assistant professor or higher, and having accrued a minimum of six years of service, are eligible for research assignment or study-research leave. Following such a leave, an additional six years of full-time service are necessary before a faculty member may be considered for another research assignment. Requests may be submitted prior to completion of six years of service, but faculty members must have completed the sixth year before the leave period begins. Faculty members on calendar year appointments may take research assignment leave for up to six months.
Approval for research assignment provides the faculty member with full salary and related benefits for the period of the leave; faculty members may not take on additional responsibilities for outside income except as allowed by the university’s consulting policy. Modest stipends associated with competitive visiting scholar programs at other institutions, competitive national or international fellowships, the Fulbright Scholar Program, and similar prestigious opportunities to support study and/or scholarly research may be approved where there is clear benefit to the faculty member and the university. Similarly, externally funded reimbursements or allotments for travel, temporary relocation, and other expenses associated with the proposed research assignment may be approved. Documentation of all external earnings and expected payments is required and must be reviewed and approved by the department head and provost. When a faculty member proposes a period of paid employment greater than 50 percent of the annual salary in a corporate or governmental setting, leave without pay or a contract through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act may be more appropriate than a research assignment.
The primary privilege of a research assignment is entire relief from teaching, administrative duties, and other faculty duties for one semester. A secondary privilege is that the assignment may be carried out at any location approved by the dean or director, although research programs that require facilities, University Libraries resources, or collaborations not available at the university are given special consideration.
An application for research assignment is submitted to the appropriate department head or chair by November 1 of the academic year preceding that in which the assignment will be made. Application forms are available from the provost’s website. The application is in the form of a letter, which includes a detailed description of the proposed research or other scholarly project, the location of that activity, and the relevance of the proposed activity in contributing to the faculty member’s own scholarly research program. The dean or director reviews the application and forwards it with a recommendation to the provost by mid-December, indicating the provisions that will be made to accommodate the faculty member’s responsibilities. The dean or director is expected to weigh fiscal and academic load considerations to assure an equitable distribution of the awards. The provost reviews the recommendations, communicates with the dean or director, and announces the results to each candidate, following approval by the Board of Visitors. Specific leave request due dates are established annually and made available in the Calendar of Important Dates on the provost’s website.
The faculty member must return to full-time service with the university for a minimum of at least one academic year at the end of the approved leave. If less than this required period of service is met, repayment is required of the pro rata portion of the compensation provided by the university during the leave period. The faculty member, before undertaking the leave, must sign a memorandum of agreement to this effect.
Within 60 days of returning to full-time status, the faculty member must send a letter to the provost, dean, and department head summarizing his or her accomplishments.
4.11 Modified Duties
The university recognizes the need for all continued appointment and continued appointment-track faculty members to balance the commitments of family and work. Special family circumstances, for example, birth or adoption of a child, severe illness of an immediate family member, or even issues of personal health, can cause substantial alterations to one’s daily routine, thus creating a need to construct a modified workload and flexible schedule for a period of time.
Since the circumstances may vary widely for faculty members at different stages of their careers and with different family and workload situations, this policy does not prescribe the exact nature of the accommodation. In many cases, it may be a reduction or elimination of a teaching assignment while the faculty member continues to meet ongoing, but more flexible research and graduate student supervision obligations. In general, the university’s commitment is to work with a faculty member to devise a modified workload and schedule that enables the faculty member to remain an active and productive member of the department. Because there is no reduction in salary, the faculty member is expected to have a set of full-time responsibilities.
An eligible faculty member is encouraged to speak with his or her department head or chair as soon as possible about the need for modified duties to ensure the maximum amount of time for planning. A department chair, in conjunction with the University Libraries dean or director of Extension, is responsible for working with a faculty member to ensure a fair plan for modified duties is implemented if possible, budgetary constraints are considered, and student or other needs are met. The policy does not create an entitlement if there are legitimate business-related reasons for denying the request. Final decisions about the nature of the modified duties are the responsibility of the department head in consultation with the dean or director.
Provisions of this policy cannot adequately address all individual circumstances. Sick leave (including disability), leave without pay, or permanent reduction in appointment to part-time status may be options to consider for longer-term or more demanding needs. This policy is not intended to provide release time from teaching for the purpose of allowing additional time for research. Reduction in teaching assignment for research purposes is the prerogative of the division and a function of the university’s program of study-research leaves.
Extension of the probationary period (see chapter four, “Extending the Continued Appointment Clock”) is available to faculty members on continued appointment-track appointments who are confronted with extenuating personal or family circumstances, or birth or adoption of a child. The extension may be requested as a complement to a request for modified duties. However, the semester of modified duties does not automatically affect the continued appointment probationary period.
Eligibility: Modified duties may be requested by any faculty member in a full-time continued appointment or continued appointment-track appointment for the purpose of managing family responsibilities or, in exceptional cases, personal health issues not addressed by sick leave. The policy applies to eligible faculty upon employment.
Guidelines: The period of modified duties is one semester, or an equivalent amount of time for those faculty members whose responsibilities are not tied directly to teaching on the academic calendar.
Modification of duties should not result in additional duties during the subsequent semester, e.g., the faculty member should not be asked to make up the released teaching before or after the semester of modified duties. The faculty member cannot be employed by another institution during the period of modified duties, nor can the release time be used for extensive professional travel or other increased professional activities (including consulting) that do not meet the goals of the policy.
Medical documentation is required if the period of modified duties is requested related to a health issue not addressed by sick leave.
A semester of modified duties should be considered in addition to, not as a substitute for, sick leave and family leave available to those giving birth or adopting during the period of the appointment (i.e., during the academic year for those on academic year appointments, or any time for those on calendar year appointments). There are no work expectations for individuals on approved sick or family leave.
Requests for outside consulting during the period of modified duties are not usually approved.
A faculty member should submit a request for modified duties as early as possible so the department can plan appropriately. The request form is available on the provost’s website. The plan of proposed activities is developed in consultation with the department head or chair and the University Libraries dean or director of Extension. The duties can be department-based, division-based, or a combination thereof.
Subject to available funding, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost provides an allotment to the faculty member’s unit to replace teaching (or to use in other ways relevant to the duties) that is lost through the granting of a term of modified duties. Additional support from departments and divisions is strongly encouraged, and should be noted in the request.
Approval of the department head or chair, University Libraries dean or director of Extension, and provost are necessary. If the department head or chair does not support the request, the reasons for denial are provided in writing, and the request is automatically forwarded to the dean or director for further review.
4.12 Consulting Activities for Virginia Cooperative Extension Faculty
Consistent with the university’s policy and procedures on consulting activities, additional restrictions may be imposed on the consulting activity of Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members. These restrictions are imposed to give further assurance that consulting approval is not granted for assistance that is the usual responsibility of faculty members within Extension.
It is recognized that the outreach responsibilities of Extension are broad and, thus, program assistance parameters are difficult to define. Consequently, the following procedures are designed to provide judgmental decisions by appropriate supervisory staff for consulting requests in ambiguous areas of program responsibilities.
The Request to Engage in External Activity Form 13010A is sent to the department head, chair, or immediate supervisor along with a letter outlining the nature of the consulting activity and why it falls outside the usual responsibilities of Extension. (The form is available on the Conflict of Interest website.) Typically, consulting activities do not involve university sponsorship.
The department head, chair, or immediate supervisor reviews the Request to Engage in External Activity Form 13010A and either approves or disapproves it. If approval is granted, the request is sent to the college dean for approval. The director of Virginia Cooperative Extension grants final approval. If disapproval is exercised at any level, the request is sent back through the department head or supervisor, to the faculty member along with an explanation for the action. Additional review and approval by the university conflict of interest officer is required for disclosures involving business ownership interests of investigators (or their family members), significant financial interests related to sponsored research, or other sponsored activities, employment or funding of students/trainees/staff, and any proposed management plan.
Decisions are based upon, but not limited to, the following: consistency with guidelines stipulated in chapter two, “Consulting and Outside Employment”; whether the area of consulting is found to be within or outside usual Extension responsibilities; and whether the time required falls within the number of consulting days allowed.