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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

HOP 3.16: THREATENED FACULTY RETRENCHMENT1

Professor Janet Staiger (radio-television-film) submitted the following proposal on behalf of the Faculty Council Executive Committee recommending changes to the University’s Financial Exigency Policy. The secretary has classified this as major legislation, therefore, it will be presented to the Faculty Council at its meeting on April 12, 2010, and will be voted on by the Council at its meeting on May 10, 2010. Afterwards, the legislation will be presented to the General Faculty on a no-protest basis.
greninger
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The Faculty Council and General Faculty

 

 

HOP 3.16: THREATENED FACULTY RETRENCHMENT

CURRENT POLICY
CHAPTER 3 – FACULTY AND ACADEMICS
Sec. 3.16. Threatened Faculty Retrenchment
Whenever there is reason to anticipate that the University is sufficiently threatened by financial exigency, declines in enrollment, or changes in educational needs to endanger the continuance of the University’s obligations to faculty members with tenure or those on regular academic appointments, the President at the earliest date possible shall inform the President’s Advisory Council, the Faculty Council, the Committee of Counsel on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, and all potentially affected budgetary units about the threatening problem.

The President shall consult with these faculty groups to determine the nature and seriousness of the problem, the most appropriate of the possible courses of action to be taken, and the means of safeguarding faculty rights and interests, including tenure rights.

The Committee of Counsel on Academic Freedom and Responsibility shall advise, monitor, and make recommendations with respect to the protection of the rights of faculty members throughout the process of planning and effecting the solution to the problem.

In solving such a problem, The University shall make every reasonable effort to reassign affected faculty members to other suitable work and to aid them in finding other employment.

PROPOSED POLICY2
CHAPTER 3 – FACULTY AND ACADEMICS
Sec. 3.16. Threatened Faculty Retrenchement

PREAMBLE

The enunciation of a policy in Rule 31003, Section 1, of the Regents' Rules and Regulations (http://www.utsystem.edu/bor/rules.htm#A4) concerning the Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs calls for the President of the University to determine institutional procedures for an in-depth review to inform and guide decisions on these matters. Section 2 concerns elimination for “Academic Reasons.” Section 3 concerns elimination due to financial exigency. In accord with Rule 3100 The University of Texas at Austin’s policy and procedures relating to Sections 2 and 3 are as follow.

GENERAL POLICY ON INTERPRETATION OF REGENTS' RULES

Regents' Rule 31003, abandonment of academic positions or programs must be interpreted in the light of Rule 40101 which gives faculty the “major role” in regard to “general academic policies and welfare” and related matters and in the light of the further provisions that assign these faculty responsibilities to the faculty governance organization and require that the organization and procedures of the governance organization be set out in the University Handbook of Operating Procedures and subject to governance review and approval. In addition, the University [accepts] will use as a guideline the recommendations regarding declarations of exigency in the American Association of University Professors “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure” which also give the faculty the primary role in these decisions.

The term “faculty committee” as used in Regents' Rules section 31003 shall be understood here as meaning the Faculty Council or any ad hoc committee [that] to which the Faculty Council may assign responsibilities to [in order to respond to] develop recommendations to address the exigency. It does not include committees that the Faculty Council does not constitute or approve.

  1. ABANDONMENT OF ACADEMIC POSITIONS OR PROGRAMS FOR ACADEMIC REASONS

    An academic program under consideration for abandonment or an academic position that is under consideration for elimination for bona fide academic reasons should be reviewed in depth through a procedure determined by the President in consultation with the Faculty Council. The President shall consult with the Faculty Council and the [concerned] affected budgetary units to determine the bona fide academic reasons, the most appropriate of the possible courses of action to be taken, and the means of safeguarding faculty rights and interests, including tenure rights.

    Tenured faculty in a program that is under consideration for abandonment or in an academic position that is under consideration for elimination will be notified and afforded an opportunity to contribute to the review process. The President will appoint a Review Committee, [of at least seven members, consisting of] at least one-half of which will have membership of faculty members [and of administrators] without current administrative duties. The Faculty Council shall provide the nominations for the faculty members and will supply at least twice the number of faculty nominations as required for the Review Committee.

    Upon completion of the review process, a recommendation with supporting rationale shall be submitted by the Review Committee to the President for review and recommendation. If the President determines that an academic program shall be abandoned or an academic position that is currently held by a tenured faculty member shall be eliminated, the President will submit a request for approval with supporting documentation to the appropriate Executive Vice Chancellor.

    A faculty member who wishes to appeal for reconsideration of a termination decision shall make this request within 30 days of notification of termination. The hearing process shall proceed as outlined in Section III of this policy.

  2. ABANDONMENT OF ACADEMIC POSITIONS OR PROGRAMS BECAUSE OF AN INSTITUTIONAL FINANCIAL EXIGENCY

INITIAL DECLARATION OF FINANCIAL EXIGENCY

Financial exigency is, as defined in the Regents’ Rules, “a demonstrably bona fide financial crisis that adversely affects the institution as a whole and that, after considering other cost-reducing measures, including ways to cut faculty costs, requires consideration of terminating appointments held by tenured faculty.” Whenever reason exists to anticipate the University is sufficiently threatened by financial exigency, declines in enrollment, or changes in educational needs to endanger the continuance of the University's obligations to faculty members with tenure or those on regular academic appointments, the President at the earliest date possible shall inform the Faculty Council and all potentially affected budgetary units of the problem.

The President shall consult with the Faculty Council and the concerned budgetary units to determine the nature and seriousness of the problem, the most appropriate of the possible courses of action to be taken, and the means of safeguarding faculty rights and interests, including tenure rights. Alternative courses of action, other than reducing the number of faculty, to be considered should include but are not limited to reduction in staff or administration, temporary reductions in pay, reduction by attrition, early retirement buyouts, elimination of bonuses, and selective non-paid leave. If reductions of faculty are unavoidable, the University shall make every reasonable effort to reassign affected faculty members to other suitable work and to aid them in finding other employment.

On the basis of these deliberations, the President shall write an Initial Declaration of Financial Exigency giving the extent and scope of the emergency and the general approach to be taken to respond to it.

CONCURRENCE OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL

The President shall submit the Initial Declaration of Exigency to the Faculty Council for advice and concurrence. Concurrence requires a majority vote of the Faculty Council. If concurrence regarding the Declaration of Exigency cannot be achieved, the President and Faculty Council will still proceed to create a joint Faculty Council-Presidential Exigency Plan. The joint Plan shall include a formula for the membership of the committee “composed of faculty and administrative personnel to make recommendations to the president as to which academic positions and/or academic programs should be eliminated as a result of the financial exigency” in accordance with rule 31003, 3.l, as well as the general criteria the committee should apply in making its recommendations.

PROCEDURE FOR ELIMINATING POSITIONS

Upon the President’s declaration of Exigency, the Faculty Council shall nominate faculty to serve on the committee to review the President’s declaration, [assure] ensure that there is no alternative to the proposed actions, and develop a process to make the needed decisions as outlined in Regents' Rules 31003, Section 2, 3.2 to 3.5, provided that:

For section 3.1, the “committee composed of faculty and administrative personnel.” The Faculty Council and the President shall agree upon the general size and composition of the committee, provided that it has at least seven members. The President shall only appoint faculty to the committee who have been nominated by the Faculty Council. At least one-half of the total committee membership shall be faculty members without current administrative duties. Additionally, at least a majority of the faculty nominated will be tenured. Non-tenured faculty shall be senior non-tenure system clinical faculty with substantial experience in the university. The nominations should seek to represent the university as a whole, not just programs initially slated to be reduced or just those not so slated, and at least some of them will have served on faculty governance review committees for recommendations on promotion and tenure for academic personnel. This committee shall be called herein the Exigency Committee.

For section 3.2, Assessment of Academic Programs. The Exigency Committee will provide a written report of its analysis of programs, which shall be submitted to the Faculty Council for review and response before recommendations are made for specific positions to be eliminated. As stated in the Rule, “The committee will review and assess the academic programs of the institution and identify those academic positions that may be eliminated with minimum effect upon the degree programs that should be continued and upon other critical components of the institution’s mission. The review will include, but not be limited to, as relevant: (a) an examination of the course offerings, degree programs, supporting degree programs, teaching specialties, and semester credit hour production; (b) an evaluation of the quality, centrality, and funding of research activities; and/or (c) an assessment of the productivity, community service, and quality of clinical services (in relation to teaching, healthcare delivery, and scholarly activity.” The Committee shall consider and may offer advice on all avenues by which terminations of faculty members can be avoided or minimized and, as well, by which the negative effects of any necessary terminations can be mitigated. Unless the President approves an extension, the Committee shall complete its work in a period of time no longer than 60 days.

In section 3.3, Review Consideration. The Exigency Committee next recommends specific positions to be eliminated. These recommendations should also be contained in a written report. The recommendations should be related to the Exigency Committee’s assessment of programs. If other officers of the university, such as deans or program chairs, are involved in identifying individuals whose appointments are to be terminated, the process for obtaining these recommendations should be described in the report. The Exigency Committee will have available the personnel records of those being considered including current curriculum vitas, annual reports for the past six years, promotion committee reports and recommendations, and results of periodic performance reviews. It will have access to full personnel files. The tenure status of a faculty member shall not be a consideration in the determination of whether a particular position should be eliminated except as permitted in Section 3.4 below. Faculty whose positions would be jeopardized by the proposed actions will be provided the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the Committee's review process, including the ability to respond in writing to the recommendations.

For section 3.4, Tenure Preference. If, in the opinion of the committee, two or more faculty members are equally qualified and capable of performing [the same] a particular teaching role, [research, and/or clinical role,] the faculty member or members having tenure shall be given preference over non-tenured faculty. However, if such faculty members have the same tenure status [and equal qualifications,] consideration will be given to other documented needs of the institution.

In section 3.5, Recommendation. According to the Rule, “upon completion of its review, the Financial Exigency Review Committee shall promptly recommend in writing to the president those persons who may be terminated, ranked in order of priority, with the reasons for their selection. The president shall, with such consultation with institutional administrative officers as the President may deem appropriate, determine which academic positions are to be terminated because of the financial exigency and shall give the holders of these positions written notice of the decision.” Unless the President approves an extension, the Committee shall complete its work in a period of time no longer than 60 days from the submission of the initial recommendations identifying the programs or positions to be reduced or eliminated.

  1. PROCEDURE FOR APPEAL

    A faculty member whose position has been eliminated is entitled to use the Faculty Grievance Procedure (HOP 3.18) to appeal the decision, subject to the requirements of Regents’ Rules 31003 section 3.8.

    The issues in this hearing may include:
    (a) The existence and extent of the exigency. The burden will rest on the administration to prove the existence and extent of the condition. The findings of other hearings involving the same issue may be introduced.
    (b) The validity of the educational judgments and the criteria for identification for termination, although the panel should give presumptive weight to the previous judgments of the Financial Exigency Review Committee.
    (c) Whether the criteria developed by the Financial Exigency Review Committee are being properly applied in the individual case.

    Faculty have a right to obtain all relevant documents.

    The employment of a tenured faculty member who is to be terminated under this policy shall not end before that person has had reasonable time to close down research or other such facilities in a non-destructive way. During this period of employment and for 3 additional years, the terminated faculty member shall have right to first consideration as specified in Rule 31003 section 3.6.

NO CONCURRENT REPLACEMENTS

If appointments are terminated, the University will not at the same time make new appointments except in extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion in the academic or clinical program would otherwise result. Similarly, the appointment of a faculty member with tenure will not be terminated in favor of retaining a faculty member without tenure, except in extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion of the academic or clinical program would otherwise result.

Posted on the Faculty Council web site on April 1, 2010.


1 On April 13, 2010, at the chair’s request, the document title was changed from Proposed Revisions to UT Austin’s Financial Exigeny Polcy.
2Document modified on April 19, 2010. Changes are reflected in the legislative markup.

 

 


  Updated 2013 October 18
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