The UNC Policy Manual

Due Process Before Discharge or the Imposition of Serious Sanctions

 

The UNC Policy Manual

Chapter 100.1 - The Code

Section 603

SECTION 603.                   DUE PROCESS BEFORE DISCHARGE OR THE IMPOSITION OF SERIOUS SANCTIONS.

(1)           A faculty member who is the beneficiary of institutional guarantees of tenure shall enjoy protection against unjust and arbitrary application of disciplinary penalties. During the period of such guarantees the faculty member may be discharged from employment, suspended, or demoted in rank for reasons of:

(a)          incompetence, including significant, sustained unsatisfactory performance after the faculty member has been given an opportunity to remedy such performance and fails to do so within a reasonable time;

(b)          neglect of duty, including sustained failure to meet assigned classes or to perform other significant faculty professional obligations; or

(c)           misconduct of such a nature as to indicate that the individual is unfit to continue as a member of the faculty, including violations of professional ethics, mistreatment of students or other employees, research misconduct, financial fraud, criminal, or other illegal, inappropriate or unethical conduct. To justify serious disciplinary action, such misconduct should be either (i) sufficiently related to a faculty member’s academic responsibilities as to disqualify the individual from effective performance of university duties, or (ii) sufficiently serious as to adversely reflect on the individual’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to be a faculty member.

These sanctions may be imposed only in accordance with the procedures prescribed in this section. For purposes of this Code, a faculty member serving a stated term shall be regarded as having tenure until the end of that term. These procedures shall not apply to nonreappointment (Section 604) or termination of employment (Section 605).

(2)          The chief academic officer of the institution, however titled, shall send the faculty member a written notice of intention to discharge the faculty member or impose a serious sanction together with a written specification of the reasons. The notice and specification of reasons shall be sent by a method of mail or delivery that requires a signature for delivery.  The statement shall include notice of the faculty member’s right, upon request, to a hearing by an elected standing faculty committee on hearings. 

(3)          If, within 14 calendar days after receiving the notice and written specifications referred to in paragraph (2) above, the faculty member makes no written request for a hearing, the faculty member may be discharged or serious sanction imposed without recourse to any institutional grievance or appellate procedure.[11]

(4)          Repealed.

(5)          If the faculty member makes a timely written request for a hearing, the chancellor shall ensure a process is in place so that the hearing is timely accorded before an elected standing committee of the institution’s faculty. The hearing shall be on the written specification of reasons for the intended discharge or imposition of a serious sanction. The hearing committee shall accord the faculty member 30 calendar days from the time it receives the faculty member’s written request for a hearing to prepare a defense. The hearing committee may, upon the faculty member’s written request and for good cause, extend this time by written notice to the faculty member. The hearing committee will ordinarily endeavor to complete the hearing within 90 calendar days except under unusual circumstances such as when a hearing request is received during official university breaks and holidays and despite reasonable efforts the hearing committee cannot be assembled.[12]

(6)          The hearing shall be closed to the public unless the faculty member and the hearing committee agree that it may be open. The faculty member shall have the right to counsel, to present the testimony of witnesses and other evidence, to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, to examine all documents and other adverse demonstrative evidence, and to make argument. A written transcript of all proceedings shall be kept; upon request, a copy thereof shall be furnished to the faculty member at the institution's expense.

(7)          The chief academic officer, or designee, and/or counsel, may participate in the hearing to present testimony of witnesses and other evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, to examine all documents and other evidence, and to make argument.

(8)          In reaching decisions on which its written recommendations to the chancellor shall be based, the committee shall consider only the evidence presented at the hearing and such written or oral arguments as the committee, in its discretion, may allow. The university has the burden of proof. In evaluating the evidence, the committee shall use the standard of “clear and convincing” evidence in determining whether the institution has met its burden of showing that permissible grounds for serious sanction exist and are the basis for the recommended action. The committee shall make its written recommendations to the chancellor within 14 calendar days after its hearing concludes or after the full transcript is received, whichever is later.

(9)          If the chancellor concurs in a recommendation of the committee that is favorable to the faculty member, the chancellor’s decision shall be final. If the chancellor either declines to accept a committee recommendation that is favorable to the faculty member or concurs in a committee recommendation that is unfavorable to the faculty member, the faculty member may appeal the chancellor's decision to the board of trustees. This appeal shall be transmitted through the chancellor and be addressed to the chair of the board. Notice of appeal shall be filed within 14 calendar days after the faculty member receives the chancellor's decision. The appeal to the board of trustees shall be decided by the full board of trustees. However, the board may delegate the duty of conducting a hearing to a standing or ad hoc committee of at least three members. The board of trustees, or its committee, shall consider the appeal on the written transcript of hearings held by the faculty hearing committee, but it may, in its discretion, hear such other evidence as it deems necessary. The board of trustees' decision shall be made as soon as reasonably possible after the chancellor has received the faculty member’s request for an appeal to the trustees. This decision shall be final except that the faculty member may, within 14 calendar days after receiving the trustees' decision, file a written notice of appeal, by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by another means that provides proof of delivery, with the Board of Governors if the faculty member alleges that one or more specified provisions of the Code of the University of North Carolina have been violated. Any such appeal to the Board of Governors shall be transmitted through the president.

(10)        When a faculty member has been notified of the institution's intention to discharge the faculty member, the chancellor may reassign the individual to other duties or suspend the individual at any time until a final decision concerning discharge has been reached by the procedures prescribed herein. Suspension shall be exceptional and shall be with full pay.

 



[11]In computing any period of time, the day in which notice is received is not counted but the last day of the period being computed is to be counted.

 

[12]To meet this deadline, faculty are encouraged to consider scheduling hearings during the evening, weekend, or other non-class time. It is strongly recommended that several days and times be established for the hearing when scheduling the first day, for the eventuality that they hearing may take two or more sessions.