Minutes of the Faculty Senate
Virtual Meeting in Zoom
October 21, 2021
Present: Senators Logan, Valenzuela, Pfannenstiel, Petty, Oden, Coppersmith, S. Schroeder, Schneiderwind, T. Schroeder, Tucker, White, Fanning, Paulson, Wilson, Overholser, Hudgens, Nelson
Proxies: Logan proxy for Almotairi
Ex-officio and guests: Trey Berry, David Lanoue, Donna Allen, Jennifer Rowsam, Sheryl Edwards, Shawana Reed, Kim Bloss, Marissa Grippo, Kayla Rasberry, Karen Landry, Greg Taylor, Tara Almond, Wilson Impson
Call to order: 3:40 pm
Approval of Minutes
Minutes from August 19, 2021 were approved (motion – Logan, second – Coppersmith).
Special Orders of the Day
Comments from SAU President, Dr. Trey Berry
- COVID update. Positive news – only one COVID-positive student as of this time and that student is an online only student.
- The Vaccine Incentive Committee has met. They recommended that every Friday beginning in November that one name be drawn from the fully vaccinated students for the winner’s choice of a $100 gift card for the campus bookstore, the SAU store on the square, or declining balance card. Ten names to be drawn on 11/1 with one name every Friday of regular semesters through May, 2022.
- The Love and Loyalty campaign has ended with over $2.97 X 107
- SAU has benefited from productivity funding over the past four years. This year, we will drop due to the sundown on the MCIS bubble of students. $3.8 X 105 will be lost for next year under current funding rules.
- The College of Education and Human Performance has received a $1 X 105 grant from the state (1 or 8 awarded) to encourage students to become teachers.
- The COLA will be applied to the October paycheck for faculty and staff.
- Proposed social media policy. Mr. Giles indicates that the policy is based on problems that SAU and other universities have experienced where comments are not related to the thread topic or the topic otherwise at hand. Many of these off topic comments are unnecessarily critical of SAU, are not about current postings, or contain foul or vulgar language inappropriate for the target audiences of the social media posts. Senator Overholser indicates that the language is much clearer now and the change is appreciated. President Schroeder requests that anyone with further questions or comments communicate directly with Mr. Giles
Comments from Provost Lanoue
- Current COVID numbers are fantastic and we can now truly be optimistic. Dr. Lanoue appreciates the faculty working behind the scenes on policy enforcements.
- Then NC grade option will once again be available for fall grades. Provost Lanoue will let faculty know about this decision very soon. Senator Tucker requests that communication very soon as it may affect student drop decisions. Dr. Lanoue indicates that faculty can let their students know now, before the official communication from the Provost’s Office.
- The HLC visit is less than 12 months away. All are encouraged to look at their websites, handbooks, and manuals before that visit to make sure everything is up to date and accurate.
Questions for the Administration
- Has there been any effort to evaluate administrators since the question was raised in the 2019-20 Faculty Senate? When [semester and year] was the last opportunity faculty were allowed to evaluate at each level (President, Provost, deans, and chairs)?
The last evaluations were in 2019 and they will happen again in Spring 2022. It is in the handbook and HLC will look for it. (Lanoue)
- Are the desired purposes and outcomes from the Faculty Peer Evaluation process best achieved when solely non-tenured faculty evaluate non-tenured faculty and when tenured faculty evaluate tenured faculty—or when tenured (experienced) faculty evaluate non-tenured faculty and when non-tenured faculty evaluate (observe experienced) tenured faculty?
The Provost sees both side of this situation and is torn on a decision. He considers it a matter of practicality for each department and allows each department to decide what works best for them. (Lanoue)
- Remote Work Policy: Understanding that the policy is “the faculty member should send a formal request to HR asking to be exempt from face-to-face teaching,” does a faculty member also send a formal request to HR to work remotely for other duties such as class prep, grading, attending Zoom meetings, and other non-direct teaching tasks?
The remote work policy for people teaching in classes to exempt them from teaching in person is a decision to be made between the faculty and Human Resources. If they are exempt in that situation, they are exempt from most in person meetings, classes, etc. If COVID rates remain low, the policy may be re-evaluated or changed. (Lanoue)
Reports of Committees
Handbook Committee: Overholser (chair), Logan, Petty, Fanning
- Faculty sanctions policy changes are largely wording changes
- IACUC information is not ready – will be at a future meeting
- Qualified faculty policy
- Provost term use throughout
- Recommends using Chrome web browser to view the online faculty handbook
- Hyperlinks for appendix information has been added
- Requesting to use inclusive language throughout
- Motion to accept Faculty Sanctions Policy as presented by the Handbook Committee (motion – Logan, second – T Schroeder). Motion carries unanimously.
- Motion to accept Faculty Qualifications Policy as presented by the Handbook Committee (motion – T. Schroeder, second – White). Motion carries unanimously.
- Motion to accept general revisions of the Faculty Handbook as presented by the Handbook Committee (motion – White, second – Wilson). Motion carries unanimously.
President Schroeder requests that the Handbook Committee to consider Dr. Rowsam’s proposed 4-week and midterm grades proposal and present their recommendations at a future meeting.
President Schroeder requests that the Parking Appeals Committee meet to re-evaluate its role and scope as a committee in the hopes of evolving into a committee with greater campus impact. The parking appeals responsibility should be maintained, but the general charge to the committee can be brought up to date.
- LGBTQ+ policy on the protection of employees based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Provost Lanoue indicates that most state universities already have it in place as do several private ones. This topic will be brought before the Staff Senate as well in the near future. Provost Lanoue indicates a deferral to Mr. Giles on the technical aspects of the policy and that accreditors will be looking at this. Mr. Giles indicates that he will further research the approval processes for such a change. More discussion at the November Faculty Senate Meeting
Motion to Adjourn (Motion – White, second – Hudgens). Motion carries unanimously.
Next meeting of the Faculty Senate is scheduled for Thursday, November 18th at 3:40 pm.
Southern Arkansas University Social Media Usage Policy*
Southern Arkansas University aspires to excellence in all programs and activities and works to create a welcoming environment for all. The University’s social media pages provide information about key happenings by sharing that information about Southern Arkansas University with prospective students, current students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends. The following rules for social media pages are intended to promote a “Muleriders spirit” of caring and respect for each other.
While visitors may not generate their own posts on SAU’s social media pages, the University welcomes input via direct message and comments on posts. All viewpoints are welcome, and comments will not be removed based on the viewpoints expressed, provided that the comments otherwise comply with the rules listed below.
Southern Arkansas University may review and remove comments based on the following criteria:
- Encourage illegal activity
- Violate the intellectual property rights of any other party, such as copyright or trademark infringement
- Compromise the safety or security of Southern Arkansas University community members
- Contain obscenities
- Contain sexually or racially harassing content that is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive
- Present a grave and imminent threat
- Incite imminent lawless action
- Contain fighting words or true threats
- Are fraudulent
- Promote a business or commercial transaction
- Promote a candidate campaigning for election
Comments must also be directly related to the topic of the originated post from the page. The following are examples of comments that are considered not responsive to or not directly related to the posts:
|Post:||Congratulations to the SAU baseball and softball teams|
|Comment:||Arkansas has better barbeque than Texas!|
|Post:||The campus will be closed tomorrow because of snow and ice on the roads.|
|Comment:||The e-sports team is doing great this year.|
|Post:||Fall class registration will have new priority deadlines this year.|
|Comment:||I can’t wait for Spring Break!|
Southern Arkansas University may also remove “spam” or comments generated or that appear to have been generated by “social bots” (i.e., content posted by automated software, or “bots”).
Different social media platforms have community standards that are accepted by the user when posting on the particular platform. Southern Arkansas University is not responsible for, and neither endorses nor opposes, comments placed on this site by its visitors. Commenters are personally responsible for their own comments, username, and any information placed on this page by the commenter.
Southern Arkansas University’s social media community standards (adapted from Facebook Community Standards are found here (link).
Southern Arkansas University Social Media Community Standards (adapted from Facebook Community Standards
- Violence and Incitement
SAU makes every effort to prevent potential offline harm that may be related to content on Social Media. While people may commonly express disdain or disagreement by threatening or calling for violence in non-serious ways the following violence and incitement language is not consistent with caring and respect, thus:
Language that incites or facilitates serious violence will be removed.
Content will be removed and accounts disabled and SAU will work with law enforcement when there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.
Language and context will be analyzed in order to distinguish casual statements from content that constitutes a credible threat to public or personal safety. In determining whether a threat is credible, we may also consider additional information like a person’s public visibility and the risks to their physical safety.
In some cases, we see aspirational or conditional threats directed at terrorists and other violent actors (e.g., “Terrorists deserve to be killed”), and we deem those non-credible, absent specific evidence to the contrary.
- Coordinating Harm and Publicizing Crime
In an effort to prevent and disrupt offline harm and copycat behavior, posters are prohibited from facilitating, organizing, promoting or admitting to certain criminal or harmful activities targeted at people, businesses, property or animals. Debate and advocacy for the legality of criminal and harmful activities, as well as draw attention to harmful or criminal activity that they may witness or experience as long as they do not advocate for or coordinate harm.
- Fraud and Deception
In an effort to prevent fraudulent activity that can harm people or businesses, content that purposefully deceives, willfully misrepresents or otherwise defrauds or exploits others for money or property may be removed. People can raise awareness and educate others as well as condemn these activities.
- Suicide and Self-Injury
SAU cares deeply about the safety of all people special focus on members of the SAU community. SAU regularly engages with experts in suicide and self-injury to help to ensure SAU policies and support for individuals in need are met. Where appropriate, individuals may discuss these topics and provide information about places to receive needed support and care.
When people post or search for suicide or self-injury- related content, attempts will be made to direct them to SAU offices or other organizations that can provide support and assist in appropriate intervention to protect the individual including emergency services.
- Sexual Harassment, Exploitation, Abuse
Content that sexually exploits or endangers children will be removed. SAU will comply with all reporting requirements of Arkansas law. Social media pages may serve as place to discuss and draw attention to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and exploitation as a means of educating and sharing places of assistance and support, but content that depicts, threatens or promotes sexual violence, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation must be avoided.
- Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and harassment happen in many places and come in many different forms from making threats and releasing personally identifiable information to sending threatening messages and making unwanted malicious contact. This content will be removed and reported to the appropriate law enforcement or appropriate SAU office of responsibility. Arkansas law prohibits bullying.
- Privacy Violations and Image Privacy Rights
As an institution of higher education, SAU complies with all state and federal laws respecting confidential information concerning students, faculty, and staff. Any confidential information or attempt to solicit confidential information will be removed.
Any attempts to breach SAU cybersecurity or violates the SAU cybersecurity protections will be removed and reported to appropriate authority.
- False Information and Manipulated Media
False information posted on a university webpage may be extremely harmful to individuals even if not so intended. This is a challenging and sensitive issue. Higher education is about exploring for truth and helping people stay informed. There is also a fine line between false information and satire or opinion. If the information is considered harmful then attempts will be made with the individual posting for clarification and an analysis of the potential danger will be made.
If the media manipulation is not apparent and could mislead and harm, the video may be labeled or removed based on the level of the threat of harm.
- Intellectual Property
Respect for intellectual property is essential promoting expression, creativity, and innovation in our community. Individuals posting should be aware of the SAU Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy and comply with its requirements.
* The Policy of Texas A & M University was helpful in the preparation of this policy.
Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Student Vaccinations
The Ad Hoc Committee on Student Vaccination was formed at the SAU Faculty Senate Meeting on September 16th, 2021.
The purpose and scope of the Ad Hoc Committee was to investigate and recommend actions to increase the number of SAU students vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ad Hoc Committee members included the following Faculty Senators: Lisa Oden, Svetlana Paulson, Abe Tucker, Eric Valenzuela, Scott White
The Ad Hoc Committee met twice, first on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in SCI 101 with all members attending, including Ms. S. Amanda Hanson, Director of SAU University Health Services. The second meeting took place on Tuesday, October 5th from 2:00-3:00 pm in the Education Building Conference room, with all members attending.
Findings and recommendations
The Committee agreed that SAU should acquire accurate estimates of the frequency of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated SAU students periodically to track progress of vaccination efforts. We proposed three independent means of estimating vaccination frequency:
- University Health Services has baseline number of students vaccinated by UHS, or students reporting being vaccinated by other service providers to UHS. Ms. Hanson reported that statewide matching will be reported in mid-October, but will exclude those vaccinated out-of-state. If only Arkansas residents are considered, a fairly accurate estimate of vaccination frequency among SAU students should be available soon.
- The fraction of classroom contacts that were quarantined during the Fall 2021 semester should provide an independent estimate of vaccination frequency, since vaccinated students are exempted from quarantine. Ms. Hanson reported that her anecdotal experience suggested roughly half of contacts had proof of vaccination, however it was highly variable from course to course. This method will no longer be valid if the quarantine policy is changed.
- Anonymous surveys can also estimate vaccination frequency. Dr. Donna Allen’s office is currently facilitating an anonymous survey (provided with an IRB exemption) among first year students. Preliminary results based on 220 responses indicate that freshmen seminar students report being vaccinated at a frequency of 57%, with about a third of unvaccinated students being open to vaccination in the future. The Ad Hoc Committee recommends expanding the survey to include other groups of students to allow for targeting of vaccine information to cohorts or groups most in need of outreach.
The Committee supports efforts to explore ways to educate and incentivize vaccination of the current student population. Specifically, the following actions are recommended:
- Facilitate a visible and sustained effort to market and advertise the benefits of vaccination. Posters, signs, social media posts, raffles, videos, emails, etc.
- Provide faculty with concise talking points, including relevant data and figures, to explain the importance of vaccines during class if they choose to do so. Major messages to convey include personal health, returning to normalcy, and protecting family and others in the SAU and larger community.
- Develop and showcase vaccine videos in classes and/or though social media. Include a diversity of students, faculty and staff encouraging students to get vaccinated for the good of the community and to create a healthier, freer campus.
- Hold a series of Q&A sessions between students and a COVID/Vaccine Panel to address specific concerns of students and to maintain a conversation about vaccines. For example, panel can clarify what the latest scientific understanding is regarding fertility risks, long-term effects, or other risks of vaccinations.
- Advocate a plan to incentivize vaccination among incoming freshman for Fall 2022, since vaccination frequency among our students will continue to be an issue in the years ahead.
The members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Vaccinations are aware of and fully support the efforts of two new subcommittees tasked by the President’s Office to 1) Facilitate a COVID/Vaccine Panel and 2) Explore incentives for students to get vaccinated. We therefore conclude the work of this committee and look forward to working with all members of the SAU Community to create a safe and healthy environment for our faculty, staff and students.
VII. IMPOSING SANCTIONS FOR ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF POLICY AND DISCHARGE FOR CAUSE
Imposing sanctions for violations of University policy and/or termination of a tenured or non-tenured appointment before the end of the period specified in the faculty member’s current contract may be effected only for adequate cause.
Adequate cause for dismissal must directly and substantially relate to the fitness of faculty members in their professional capacity as academics. Dismissal shall not be used to restrain faculty members in the lawful exercise of any individual legal rights. Adequate causes for termination of a contract before the end of its specified term are defined as follows:
- Substantial neglect of duties;
- Documented gross unfitness to associate with students, faculty, or staff;
- Demonstrable incompetence;
- Moral turpitude;
- Misuse of funds,
- Violation of criminal law that places the institution or members of the university community in jeopardy;
- Persistent and willful violation of standards of faculty conduct; these standards are located in the subsection on Standards of faculty conduct included in the section entitled Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure;
- Medical issues of such a nature as to render the faculty member unable to fulfill their professional responsibilities; or
- Bona fide financial exigency on the part of the University or discontinuance of a program, department, or College.
- Faculty Sanctions for Cause
Effective performance and development of each faculty member is a mutual concern and responsibility of the faculty and of the University. At times, the imposition of a sanction may be necessary as a corrective measure. A sanction is a documented action in response to improper performance of duties, responsibilities, or conduct by a faculty member.
The University has, and retains, the right to apply sanctions to faculty members, ranging from lesser sanctions such as reprimand up to and including major actions, such as termination of employment. Sanctions will be applied for just cause, based on stated grounds, and will be determined on the basis of the appropriateness of the penalty imposed for each individual situation.
Timeliness, fundamental fairness, and appropriate procedural processes and safeguards are held in high regard. Each case will result in a thorough review by the appropriate supervisors of the issues relating to a) the conduct of the accused and b) an appropriate sanction(s).
- Types of Sanctions
The severity and type of sanction selected for a particular offense must be appropriately related to the nature and circumstance of the case. For some sanction types, the sanction is a definitive terminal penalty, whereas other types may incur a penalty to be carried out for a limited or specified duration of time. The types of disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed on a faculty member, with or without tenure, are described below in order of increasing severity.
- Minor Sanctions: Imposed penalties for lesser offenses against duty, responsibility, or conduct unbecoming a University professional at this institution. Examples of such actions include, but are not limited to, inadvertent academic misconduct, breach of commitment to the community, or minor neglect of duties, etc.
- Verbal Reprimand: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may receive an informal verbal reprimand. The verbal reprimand is the initial step in a progressive disciplinary process that warns the member of disapproval of actions. The reprimand brings the inappropriate action to the attention of the member, emphasizes the seriousness of continued actions, and presents instructions on how to resolve or correct the problem. The supervisor giving the verbal reprimand may write a brief summary of the conversation, allowing for comments from the faculty member to be attached. Confidential documentation is held between the two parties, but no formal documentation will be placed in personnel records.
- Written Censure: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may receive a formal written notification of strong disapproval of actions. The written censure documents the occurrence and warns that further violations may result in additional sanctions. The written censure will be delivered confidentially to the member and a copy maintained in personnel records for a period of time specified in the notice.
- Apology: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may be required to issue a private apology to a colleague or student, or a public apology to the University community, depending on the nature of the incident, with written documentation of the violation provided to the faculty member. The apology documents the member’s good faith approach to acknowledge inappropriate actions while agreeing not to repeat such actions in the future. Apologies may be combined with other sanctions. A copy of the apology will be maintained in personnel records for a period of time specified in the notice.
- Probation: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may be placed on probation for a specified period of time. The letter authorizing probation will inform the faculty member of any corrective measures that need to be taken during the probationary period and specify that further violations of policy or additional offenses may result in major sanctions.
- Major Sanctions: Imposed penalties for more serious offenses against duty, responsibility, or conduct unbecoming a professional at this institution. Examples of such actions include, but are not limited to, repetitive or substantial neglect of duties, documented incompetence, intentional misuse of funds, academic misconduct, conflict of interest, gross unfitness to associate with students or faculty, etc.
Due to the nature of specific behaviors deemed applicable to major sanctions, a “relief of duties” may be assigned for a period of time along with a major sanction. This relief of duties not only refers to teaching assignments or roles consistent with one’s job description but also could include limited or prohibited access to university resources for the duration of the sanction period.
- Written Censure A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may receive a formal written notification of strong disapproval of actions. The written censure documents the occurrence and warns that further violations may result in additional sanctions. The written censure will be delivered confidentially to the member and a copy maintained in personnel records.
- Suspension: A faculty member with or without tenure may be suspended from any or all appointments with pay, with or without relief of duties, for cause. The duration of the suspension, in alignment with the nature of the action, is to be no less than two weeks and no more than twelve months.
- Demotion: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may be demoted in title while maintaining current salary, demoted in title with a corresponding salary reduction, or incur an appropriate salary reduction aligned to new or revised assigned duties or reappointment of duties for cause, as determined by the administration.
- Prohibited Research: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may be prohibited from submitting grant or research proposals through the university or from acting as a representative of the university for a specified period of time. A relief of duties may apply for a period of time as determined by the administration.
- Involuntary Leave: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may be relieved of duties with or without pay for a cause of an accused major action while still retaining temporary employment status. This sanction is justified for major actions that warrant the temporary disassociation between the member and institution. The involuntary leave sanction is limited in duration for a period of time as determined by the administration pending the outcome of the related investigation connected to the major action. After such time of the investigated outcome, the member may be assigned Immediate Dismissal from Employ, one of the Major Sanctions, or be released from Involuntary Leave without further penalty.
- Immediate Dismissal from Employ of the University: A person holding a faculty appointment with or without tenure may be dismissed from employment and relieved of duties, without pay, on the grounds of major sanctions. This sanction is justified for actions with such gravity of gross conduct or unlawful conditions that render the member unfit for continuing association with students, faculty, or this institution. Member may constitute an immediate and substantial danger to members of the university or the property of the university. A member accused of major sanctions with potential for “Immediate Dismissal from Employ” may serve the “Involuntary Leave” sanction prior to dismissal if/until an investigation is conducted. If the investigation confirms the severe misconduct or finds the faculty member liable, then immediate dismissal is appropriate and the dismissed member shall not be entitled to receive any salary after the dismissal effective date. If the behavior is substantiated and an investigation is not required or relevant to alter the outcome of one’s standing at the university, then immediate dismissal is appropriate.
This section describes the general principles and definitions of terms applying in instances in which the University investigates alleged violations of University policy by a faculty member, after which (should clear and convincing evidence support the allegation) the administration imposes sanctions. In certain cases, violation of University policy may also entail violation of the policies of external organizations; consequently, cases alleging discrimination/discriminatory harassment or misconduct in scholarly activity or research require special procedures to ensure compliance with external agencies and regulations. Nevertheless, the following general procedures and principles apply for all allegations against a faculty member for violation of a University policy.
- Purview The procedures spelled out in this section of this Faculty Handbook shall be the sole method for investigating and/or resolving any complaint against a faculty member, unless otherwise mandated by law or policy of the United States or the State of Arkansas. Standards regarding faculty conduct and responsibilities are provided in the section titled Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure.
- Initiation of Allegations Allegation means any written or verbal complaint of violation of University policy made to an appropriate administrative officer. A good faith allegation is one made with the honest belief that a violation may have occurred. According to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, an allegation is not made in good faith “if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation (1995)”. The Administrative Officers empowered to receive allegations and to initiate inquiries are a) the program director, chair, and/or dean to whom the faculty member reports and b) the Provost. Allegations of discrimination or discriminatory harassment may also be made to the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) Officer, or in the case of sex/gender discrimination, to the Title IX Coordinator(s).
- Deciding Officials The Deciding Official is the administrative officer who makes the final determination that a policy has been violated and decides the appropriate institutional action. In cases in which the complaint is resolved during the stage of informal investigation and mediation, the deciding official may be the academic dean, the EEO/AA officer (in cases alleging discrimination or discriminatory harassment), or the Provost. In cases in which the complaint is resolved during an inquiry, the deciding official may be the program director, chair, or academic dean, the EEO/AA officer (in cases alleging discrimination or discriminatory harassment), or the Provost. In cases that proceed to the stage of formal investigation and resolution, the deciding official(s) shall be the President, and/or the Board of Trustees.
- Inquiry, Investigation, and Mediation Inquiry describes the stage in which the administrative officer suspects or receives an allegation of violation of policy, determines the validity of the allegation, and seeks to resolve the problem. An informal investigation and/or mediation occurs when preliminary attempts to resolve the matter fail or when the allegation makes private resolution impossible (for example, because of the gravity of the situation or because a granting agency requires at least informal investigation). Informal investigations gather and dispense information, attempt to mediate the complaint, and/or determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. Formal investigation and resolution describes the adjudicating committee’s examination and evaluation of the evidence supporting the charge and the determining officer’s decision based on the committee’s findings.
- Standards of Proof Before any sanction is imposed, the determining officer must conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence in support of the allegation. “Clear and convincing evidence” does not require evidence that is beyond a reasonable doubt; it is defined as that degree of proof that will produce a firm belief in the allegations sought to be established. Clear and convincing evidence thus is an intermediate standard requiring more than a preponderance of evidence, but less than the certainty required by evidence that is beyond a reasonable doubt.
- SanctionsThere are two types of sanctions: Minor and Major.
- Safeguards Against RetaliationRetaliation refers to any action taken by the University, a faculty or staff member, or group of faculty or staff members, against an individual or individuals because the latter have, in good faith, made or provided evidence in support of an allegation. Acts of retaliation violate the 1999 Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act and are subject to investigation and disciplinary action if the allegation of retaliation is substantiated.
- Confidentiality In all proceedings, confidentiality will be maintained to the greatest extent possible. The administration will guard any involved member’s anonymity as much as is in their control throughout the pending investigation. Notes, reports, files, or other written documents may be kept about the inquiry or investigation but shall not be placed in an employee’s personnel file. Because the mere suspicion of wrongdoing, even if totally unjustified, is potentially damaging to an individual’s career, information concerning any investigation should be available only to those with a right or a need to know. An unwarranted reference to an exonerated case may in itself constitute misconduct.
In accordance with 1999 Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act, the university will take steps to protect the complainant as necessary as an investigation ensues. Faculty can be investigated via the process described in this section as well as through the Title IX process depending on the alleged improper behavior(s). Should external regulation or safety concerns require the administrative officer to pursue an inquiry and/or investigation, the complainant’s identity will be kept confidential to the extent possible, but the faculty member shall be apprised of the allegation and have access to any written documents produced by University officials or committees.
- Faculty Notification and Access to Files As mentioned in #8 above, nothing concerning allegations against a faculty member shall be kept in a faculty member’s personnel file by any committee, officer, or office of the University except as required by state or federal policy. This process should be followed unless the faculty member is notified of the existence of, and provided access to, the written material (notes, reports, images, files, etc.). The faculty member shall also be afforded the opportunity to respond to the allegation and to have that response added to the written record. (This standard does not apply to conversations or discussions that do not result in further inquiry or investigation and/or enduring notes, reports, files, or other written documents).
- Remedies and Sanctions Remedies and sanctions are described in the Minor Sanctions and Major Sanctions sections of this document.
- Appeals of Sanctions Should a faculty member, at the end of a formal investigation, receive a sanction, they may appeal the sanction by requesting a review from the Mediation Committee on the grounds of procedural irregularities or new evidence for consideration which was not available at the time sanction was recommended. This is the first step in the appeals process. Procedures for appeals are in “Faculty Appeals” in section E, 2, c.
- Publicity Dismissal for cause of a faculty member is an extreme measure, undertaken only for the protection of the University and of the members of the University community. The proceedings leading to this measure are not intended either to subject the dismissed faculty member to public censure or to compromise unduly the possibility of their employment elsewhere. For this reason, hearings are private unless the faculty member decides that they should be open to the University community. No public announcement of the initiation of the procedure aiming at dismissal for cause, of any later stages of the procedure, or of the final disposition of the case will be made, unless the faculty member requests—in writing addressed to the President—that a public announcement be made. Upon such a request, the President or the President’s representative shall make an appropriate announcement. The announcement of a dismissal for cause shall include summary statements of the charges and of the decisions of the Faculty Appeals Committee, the President, and the Board of Trustees. Confidentiality will be maintained consistent with Arkansas law.
The same provisions shall apply, with the necessary adjustments, to procedures aimed at the imposition of sanctions other than dismissal for cause. Except when the nature of the sanction itself requires disclosure (e.g., censure, public apology), the fact that the sanction was imposed and a summary of the established charges shall be disclosed only to the extent strictly necessary.
To the extent possible, public statements and publicity about the case will be avoided by the faculty member, the committee, and administrative offices until the proceedings have been completed, including consideration by the Board of Trustees. If a public statement about a case is made by the faculty member concerned or by any other person while the proceedings are still in progress or after they are concluded, the President shall have the right to a public reply.
- Procedures for Imposition of Sanction other than Dismissal
- Addressing Allegations – When the appropriate deciding officer receives an allegation that a faculty member has violated University policy, or when that officer finds evidence that a faculty member under their supervision has violated University policy, that administrator shall first discuss the allegation and/or offending conduct with the faculty member. If the officer determines that there is reason to proceed, the officer shall define the violation and explain relevant policy and procedures in writing, when required by the sanction. This action includes any sanctions (minor or major) that may be imposed on the faculty member. The deciding officer shall provide the faculty member an opportunity to respond and shall seek a solution that is mutually satisfactory to all parties involved (e.g., an agreement to stop the offending conduct, amelioration, and/or remediation).
- Faculty Sanctions – If the administration believes that the conduct of a faculty member, although not constituting adequate cause for dismissal, is sufficiently serious to justify imposition of a sanction, the process presented in this section should be followed. This process applies to sanctions defined as minor or major.
- Faculty Notification – The administration shall provide written notification to the faculty member regarding the basis for the sanction, including all charges. Upon receiving this notification, the faculty member has ten (10) working days to address the alleged charge(s) and convince the administration that the proposed sanction should not be imposed.
- Review by Mediation Committee – If the two parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement regarding the proposed sanction, the faculty member may request a review by the Mediation Committee. Mediation Committees will be appointed by the Faculty Senate Committee on Committees and will be comprised of three members of the Faculty Senate. The Mediation Committee will determine whether the two sides are able to resolve the dispute through consultation with both parties.
- Faculty Appeals Subcommittee – If the Mediation Committee determines the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, the faculty member can initiate an appeal by written request to the chair of the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee. This appeal by the faculty member must be initiated within ten (10) working days following the conclusion of the review by the Mediation Committee. Upon receipt of this appeal, the chair of the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee will notify the President.
Within five (5) working days of this notification, the President or a delegate of the President will provide a written statement declaring the administration’s position to the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee. This statement will offer clear and convincing evidence substantiating the administration’s position, including all pertinent facts of the case. When sanctions are imposed for just cause, the President or a delegate will provide a list of charges. The statement of charges will be transmitted to the faculty member and to the chair of the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee for a hearing.
- Faculty Appeals Subcommittee Hearing – The Faculty Appeals Subcommittee will conduct a formal hearing within ten (10) working days from the receipt of the President’s statement. Notice of the hearing with specific charges in writing will be dispatched to the faculty member and all other concerned parties at least five (5) working days prior to the scheduled hearing.
The Faculty Appeals Subcommittee, in consultation with the President and the faculty member, should exercise its judgement as to whether the hearing should be public or private. The parties of both sides will submit in writing the name of an academic advisor and/or counsel, if desired, and the name of any witnesses, to the chairperson of the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee as least 5 working days prior to the hearing. At the request of either party or the hearing committee, a representative of a responsible educational association shall be permitted to attend the proceedings as an observer. The committee will invite the University President or a representative. Each of the following may invite one observer: the faculty member, the President, and the committee. Questioning of witnesses will be limited to members of the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee, the faculty member involved, and the President or the President’s representative. The faculty member and the administration shall have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. Questioning shall be relayed through the chair to the person to whom the question is directed.
The Faculty Appeals Subcommittee will proceed by considering the justification for the faculty member’s sanction(s), as well as the faculty member’s response written prior to the hearing. A verbatim record of the hearing will be taken, and a printed copy will be made available to the faculty member without cost at the faculty member’s request. The “burden of proof” that adequate cause exists for the imposition of a major sanction rests with the institution and shall be satisfied only by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole. Every possible effort will be made to obtain the most reliable evidence.
Immediately, following the hearing, the Committee will meet in closed session and draft a report stating a recommendation regarding each of the charges presented during the hearing. A copy of these recommendations will be submitted to the President and the Faculty Member within 5 working days
If the Faculty Appeals Committee concludes that adequate cause for sanction has not been established by the evidence in the record, it will so report to the President. If the committee concludes that adequate cause for a major sanction has been established but that a lesser sanction would be appropriate, the Committee will so recommend in their report without supporting reasons. If the President rejects the report, the President will present the reasons for the rejection in writing to the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee and to the faculty member, providing an opportunity for responses, before transmitting the case to the Board of Trustees.
- Board of Trustees – If a sanction is recommended, the faculty member may request that the President transmit to the Board of Trustees the record of the case. The Board of Trustees’ review will be based on the Faculty Appeals Committee hearing record, and the Board will provide opportunity for argument, verbal or written or both, by the principals at the hearings or by their representatives.
If they do not uphold the decision of the Faculty Appeals Committee, the Board of Trustees will return the proceedings to the Committee, the President, or the President’s appointed representative with specific objections. The Committee will then reconsider the matter by taking into account any stated objections or new evidence. The Board of Trustees will make a final decision only after study of the hearing committee’s reconsideration. The Board of Trustees will so report to the President who will then inform the faculty member and the Faculty Appeals Subcommittee of those findings.
I’m assuming this will roll under “Academic Policies” and then “Policies Related to Teaching Assignments and Scheduling” – perhaps it should be listed first – “A” as moving down the document they discuss teaching qualifications.
Policy on Faculty Qualifications
- Southern Arkansas University adheres to Higher Learning Commission guidelines on “Determining Quality Faculty” (updated Oct. 1, 2015 following an adoption of a policy revision to Assumed Practice B.2. by HLC’s Board of Trustees). These guidelines state that “qualified faculty members are identified primarily by credentials, but other factors, including but not limited to equivalent experience, may be considered by the institution in determining whether a faculty member is qualified.”
- Faculty should possess a master’s degree and have completed at least 18 graduate hours in the discipline or subfield of the undergraduate credit courses for which they are the instructor of record and a terminal degree in the discipline if teaching graduate courses. Departments are responsible for determining, within recognized national standards, the definitions of “discipline” and “subfield” for the purposes of meeting the HLC guidelines on faculty qualifications. The key consideration in each case will be whether or not the faculty member’s graduate-level training demonstrably provides them with the substantive and/or methodological expertise necessary to teach the course in question. All departmental decisions are subject to review and approval by the appropriate dean and the Provost.
- Academic colleges may choose to assign faculty to teach courses or to employ faculty to positions based upon their equivalent experience as part or all of their formal credentials. The deans of the colleges must follow HLC guidelines in documenting that these faculty have “tested experience” that may include defined skills relevant to the courses, a record of accomplishment throughout their career and profession, and credentials or certifications that confirm expertise in the field. The exception to applying the “tested experience” in lieu of academic degree requirements are departments or colleges in which the governing agency or accrediting body prohibits the exception. The employment of regular or adjunct faculty with equivalent experience should normally occur only in cases where the faculty member in question possesses a critical technical skill set otherwise unavailable to SAU students; or where the faculty member in question has a documented record of exceptional personal or professional experience that, by virtue of its high level of responsibility and/or accomplishment, provides a depth and scope of knowledge in the field comparable to that of someone holding a terminal degree. A documentation letter of tested experience from the appropriate dean and approved by the Provost must be included in the personnel files of the faculty employed under this criteria. Faculty whose qualifications have been approved by the Provost to January 1, 2017, will be considered as meeting all standards described above.
- In emergency cases (for example, when professors assigned to courses are unable to fulfill their duties either just before or during a term), it may be necessary to hire someone who, while knowledgeable and competent in the subject matter, does not fully meet the standards described above. Such a hire will be considered temporary, and should not continue past the relevant semester. When such a hire is necessary, the appropriate academic dean must state in writing both the exigency involved and the qualifications that justify allowing the person in question to serve as instructor of record. The request must be approved by the Provost. The person hired on an emergency basis must have documented college-level training or experience in the field. Such hires should only be made after all efforts to find a fully qualified replacement are exhausted and when, in the judgment of the dean and Provost, significant harm would be done to students by cancelling the course.